I waited. I waited to write something about this tournament because I’ve learned over the years to step back and let things settle down. I have found that I get a better perspective of the big picture this way. I, like so many, say things in anger and frustration that I wish I hadn’t said, or wish I could take back. I’m older now, and I try not to make those mistakes anymore. I still do, but hopefully not as often. So…I waited.
I read all the comments, mostly negative on Facebook. I felt the anger of some, and the disappointment of others. I felt the frustration of those who put so much time and effort recently in trying to prevent this exact scenario from occurring. I felt sad when those who were documenting the tournament by going “Live” on Facebook turned off their cameras because the controversial play seemed like it took forever and wasn’t going to be resolved. The lowest point for me was when one of our biggest supporters in everything that we do as a community had to actually delete the video of the game because of the tremendous negativity, vulgarity, and profanity of the comments that came with the post. Not all were like this, but too many. I read all the speculation on why the tournament was not completed, and why the winnings were split. I read the opinions of people who were not there, but gave their opinion as if they were. I read and appreciate all the posts that offered solutions instead of finding fault. I read and also appreciate those who believe that this game could never be more than an inner city game because of these incidents, and it is broken beyond repair. I know these same people love the game , and have more passion for it than most of us. For all of you, I offer a different view.
How about all of the people, men and women, who came to support the players and the game. I overheard a player saying, “Hopefully with everybody here I’ll be able to get a couple of games in on the side.” That’s music to my ears. How about the people so dedicated to videoing not just the games, but the event. Documenting the people and their families, and the jokes and jabs, and the silliness of friends who know each other forever. Supporters who willingly drive in the worst traffic this country has to offer, and actually pay tolls to sit in that very same traffic. Oh yes, and the people who voluntarily take mass transit on the weekend, which basically means that the train or bus has no schedule, but comes when it’s in the mood. How about the people who just come to hang out with their friends. Maybe I’m just a Floridian, but I thought it was fantastic.
Lets talk about some of the matches.
Robert Sostre & Will Rolon vs. Frank Savino & Eric Faro– What a match! Incredible volleys and gets. One team has control then the other gets hot, and seems to have victory in their grasp to force a tiebreaker only to fall inches short. Incredibly exciting high quality match that offered everything paddleball is supposed to have.
Brian Romero and Ben Goldenberg vs. Carlito and Joe– Can the ball be hit any harder and go any faster??!!! Anyone who has ever said that Big Ball was slow certainly did not witness this game. A showcase game for the future of Big Blue. Power, speed, athleticism, and shot making. Nobody watching this game had anything but positive thoughts about this tournament.
Bobby Fiorentino and Bay Lui vs. Willie “Wheels” Chavez and Steve “The Greek”- Knock down drag out battle between three players who have played with, and against each other hundreds of times, and a player who gets to every ball and is capable of any shot from any angle on the court. Anyone who has not seen Willie play is missing out on an incredible paddleball treat! Bobby and Bay were fortunate enough to win in two, but it most likely felt like four.
Robert Sostre & Will Rolon vs. Bobby Fiorentino & Bay Lui- I’m not even sure if people realized that Bobby and Bay won the first game 21-6! It looked like there was no way that they could come back from such a decisive beating, but in true Sostre fashion he willed (no pun intended)his team to a third game tie breaker. After trailing for most of the game Rob and Will somehow figured out a way to pull out an amazing victory over two legends. Incredibly high quality paddleball.
The tournament did not end the way it should have. These great games ended up to be forgotten or overlooked. Don’t do that!! I ask you to remember these games and the excitement they generated. I ask you to remember who you were sitting next to, and what you were talking about while these games were going on. I ask you to remember the excitement you had about getting in some games with great players on the side. These matches, those thoughts , and those games are the possibility of every event. This is what will bring new players to our game.
Lastly, as everyone knows, I was a participant in that game. I speak on behalf of only myself, I would like to extend my apologies to all the referees. I know all of you many years and consider you my friends, and I hope that everyone can move forward and continue trying to make our sport better. I believe it’s worth it.