Incredible comebacks, unbelievable gets, upsets, almost upsets, and too close for comfort victories. The 2017 Las Vegas Paddleball Tournament had it all and much more. There were four wall racquetball players, three wall paddleball players, and handball players all competing in this years one wall paddleball tournament. All stepping out of their comfort zone to play in arguably the most competitive and exciting event in this years Championships. The participants read like a who’s who of all the 3WallBall Championships. Chris McDonald, Emmett Coe, Veronica Figueroa, Allan Sanchez, Richie Vera, David Blatt, Will Rolon, Freddy Ramirez and of course Robert Sostre. Most winning or placing in their respective events.
The B Division included the Men’s Pro Division Three Wall Handball Champion and One Wall runner-up, the Men’s B Division Doubles Handball Champion, the Racquetball A Division Champion, and two legendary ladies handball champions, and two old school small ball players. In the end it was Allan Sanchez and Armando Duchesne powering by Ray Cruz and Warren Weiner 25-16.
The Women’s Pro Doubles Division was dominated by the veteran team of Kathy Guinan and Susan Stephen as they defeated two extremely talented ladies, Jasmine Suarez and Cynthia Watson 25-16. The championship game was filled with smart play and terrific volleys as the fans were treated to high end paddleball. New comers to paddleball scene via handball, The legend Veronica Figueroa, Jessica Santiago, Bernice Torres, Brenda Pares-Dubose, and Melissa Sky all held their own and will certainly be contenders in future tournaments. We welcome all of you and look forward to your growth in paddleball.
The Mixed Doubles Division was filled with comebacks and unpredictability as Kathy Guinan and “The Comeback Kid” Frank Savino looked all but out of it before rallying for an over the top 25-24 victory over David “The Hulkster” Blatt and Melissa Sky. It wasn’t an easy road for either finalist as their respective opponents are champions in their own right. Jasmine Suarez and Paul Angel battled furiously till the end before Blatt and Sky sealed the deal. On the other side Will’ The Warrior” Rolon and Susan Stephen tried to mount a comeback, but fell just a bit short as the consistency of Savino and Guinan proved too much to overcome. Congratulations to new comer Melissa Sky as she continues her climb to the top of the Ladies division.
The Men’s Pro Doubles Division was insane from the first round as Brian Romero steps off a plane to team with Chris McDonald and serves nine service winners to take out Richie Gonzales and Andy Price. Later in the round first time partners Matt Mantro and Jose Serrano go on to sweep Bay 8th veterans Kevin Cullen and Stephen Tagliaferri in a minor upset, and in the process delivering the only shutout of the tournament. The next round sees Kenny Armwood and Ray Sanchez take Robert Sostre and Freddy Ramirez to the brink of elimination as Sostre and Ramirez barely survive 21-18. Meanwhile Coe and Melendez sail by Romero and McDonald 21-14. Finally favorites David Blatt and Paul Angel are also taken to the brink of elimination as they barely slip by Sammy Kawaam and Ben Goldenberg 21-19. This sets up one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history as Frank Savino and William Rolon are trailing 18-4 to David Blatt and Paul Angel and somehow rally to go on to win one of the most epic games in the last decade 21-20. Meanwhile Sostre and Ramirez breeze by Coe and Melendez 21-14 as Sostre and Ramirez prove too much for the new comer to handle. This sets up a tremendous final on the “Show Court.” Dives, rallies, spikes, and rollers rule the finale, but in the end it’s Sostre building the lead and Ramirez closing the show as they capture the Championship 25-17.
I would like to take a few moments to thank some people who have helped make this event a successful one. I’d like to thank Mike Coulter and Aaron Embry for all their patience in helping me prepare for the event and supporting paddleball in a very big way. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes especially as the event draws near, I want you both to know how much you are appreciated. I’d like to thank Vic Leibovsky for not only sponsoring paddleball but always making yourself available to me no matter what ridiculous question I had. Your patience and knowledge is also very much appreciated along with your incredible wife Patty who has the heart of an angel.Thank you both. I want to thank John Cherry for being my eyes and ears in NY. I want to thank Ray Sanchez for the artwork, and for being the nicest crazy guy ever.I want to thank Jimmy Kandylas, for not only sponsoring this event, but for all that you do at every event. You are a class act and paddleball extends it hand of thanks to you. I want to thank Antonio Navarro for doing what you do, which is bring our sport into homes that might not get to see it live. Thank you Tony. I also want to thank Timothy Gonzales for always supporting me. I appreciate you and our friendship. I want to thank Liz Colon for her support, and for our hilarious paddleball conversations. You always make me laugh and have kind words. Thank you. I want to thank Kari and AF for the absolutely beautiful shirts. I also want to thank AF for the uplifting phone calls in Vegas. Your support means a lot. Thank you. I want to thank every player who participated in the tournament. You never refused to referee a line. You displayed incredible sportsmanship throughout. You gave all of yourselves every game. You cheered for others, and showed class till the end. You represented paddleball in the best way in front of hundreds who have never seen the game. You promoted our sport like it hasn’t been promoted in a long time. Thank you. I heard and appreciate all of your kind words. Thank you Anita, Kathy, Susan, Sammy, my old friend Ray Cruz, and everybody else who gave me words of encouragement. You are all awesome.
Finally, Richie Vera, thank you for all that you do for sports and the community. You give, and ask nothing in return except for the growth of our sport. Your participation in an event means that it will be run fairly and with integrity. Your presence commands respect because you have earned it. I thank you for your never ending support and generosity. Your family is truly incredible. I’m glad to call you my friend. Thank you
See you soon!