2ND ANNUAL KEN GINTY MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
Above: T. Bastidas hitting the ball with his left hand down the line with referee and tournament Director A. Apuzzi (red shirt) in the background.
Above: Tyree swings his right hand to hit the right shot at the right corner. All pictures above courtesy of Scott Schilder
Written by Ben Brighton
Despite spring like weather meant for outdoor activities a large field made the trek to the H.E.S. for the 2nd Annual Ken Ginty Memorial singles tournament. The draw was comprised of youngsters testing the waters to gain experience against top competition, veterans rehabbing injuries, and former greats who (while having lost a step or two) retain the desire of their youth. The camaraderie of these players meeting at various crossroads of their careers is what the sport is all about.
Tyree in his first 1-wall tournament since being a distinct underdog in capturing the 2010 USHA National Championships, put aside talk that he was “lucky” by beating Saul “Dizzle” Gonzalez in the final.
Tyree began his ascent with a win over Paul Williams, who is as much of a major force behind the scene as he was on the court in the 90s. In the round of 16 Albert Apuzzi, the oldest player competing showed “he’s still got game” by pushing Joe Kaplan before falling 21-16. “Rookie” who beat Ariel Garcia 21-19, squared off against Kaplan in the quarters. A short time ago this would have been considered a marquee match. Injuries marred their performances in this summer’s nationals. In a lack luster showing by Kaplan, Rookie won 21-1. In the semis Tyree overwhelmed rookie 21-8. In their last meeting Rookie was leading 18-10 before a leg injury forced him to default the match. Bastidas’ convincing win cast aside and doubt that he is not a prime time player.
In the bottom half of the draw, Saul Gonzalez beat Billy O’Donnell 21-14. Red Bull Slaps champion Mike Schneider Jr., who came within an eyelash of beating Rookie last summer, outlasted Cesar Sala 21-12. Saul eliminated Mike 21-11. The final produced a showcase of the skills of Tyree and Saul which will thrill fans for the next decade or two.
For our stars of the past decade (Castro, Kaplan, Wright, Sala, Polanco, etc.) there is a certain sayings in sports which seem appropriate. An injury in your twenties is a temporary set back, in your thirties it’s your body breaking down. In your twenties a loss is a learning experience, in your thirties it’s age and a loss of skills.
It will be interesting to watch how these starts respond to the new order of talented 1-wallers (Bastidas, Gonzalez, O’Donnell, Schneider, etc). Can they reclaim past glories or will they be forced to pass the torch?
In the Women’s division Theresa McCourt defeated Dori Ten in the final. The field was smaller than usual as several elite competitors were away at a Women’s 4-wall Pro-stop in Tucson AZ. “Terror” defeated Loreen Belfour 21-12 and Annie Huang 21-9. Dori walked a tightrope in winning her semifinal match over Na Liu 21-20 after leading 19-3!!! Theresa’s superior power was too much for Dori’s steady court game as she succumbed 21-7.
A special mention to Brenda Pares, who was in attendance, taking a sabbatical from handball with her first pregnancy. The handball community wishes her the best.
Thanks to H.E.S. for making its facility available, its staff for being both helpful and courteous at all times, Chris Vasquez (from Sky Bounce) for supplying the tournament banner, Jason Morgan for manning the tournament desk and Sweeney Lee and Adam Gittlitz for their cash donations
The Albany Open – Bill Kennedy thrilled over his “Kendler Award” – players flock to Award ceremony – V. Roberts plays at tournament - delivers Honor speech and Award.
Above from left: B. Kennedy accepts Kendler Award from USHA Executive Director V. Roberts.
Above: From the back of one side of the room, B. Kennedy is seen at the podium in the background giving his "thank you" speech. All pictures above courtesy of Dan Gebben
B. Kennedy’ Thanksgiving holiday journey started a little early. The former Northeast Handball Commissioner, arrived in the mid-Hudson Valley early on Saturday, because Bill was the recipient of the highest award at the Regional level “The Kendler Award” It was a huge culmination of many years of happiness and joy of writing handball articles and playing the sport he loves the most ”handball”
Albany, New York’s capital was the site of this weekend huge celebration. He was surrounded by his family and long-time friends.
Kennedy, who now resides in Maine, was a former resident of New Jersey, but on Saturday night he was among his friends in New York as Vern Roberts, Executive Director of the USHA presented him with the Kendler Award.
He and his wife will return to enjoying time with their family and friends through the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We are keeping busy with the enjoyments and relaxation all at the same time,” Kennedy said.
The Albany Open – Tyree Bastidas is “Unstoppable” - captures third Men’s Open title three years in a row – becomes youngest player to carry the torch for such a long time – two Albany Open champions in great finale – N.Y.A.C. championship match at the Albany Open
Above from left: Tyree Bastidas (champion) and Mike Schneider after the championship match. Both players represented the N.Y.A.C. Picture courtesy of Dan Gebben.
Since 2008, The Albany Open has had only one champion in the Men’s Open Singles division, Tyree Bastidas. “There are a lot of players out there who travel the distance to compete in this tournament” said, Tyree. “Win or lose, they love to come to this tournament. They always walked out like winners no matter what”
On the top side of the draw, T. Bastidas was playing a great match against E. O’Leary from Massachusetts, and although the score does not speak of the game they played, it kept all handball fans cheering late in the afternoon before heading to the annual banquet. V. Roberts was the referee of this exciting semifinals match.
On the bottom bracket M. Schneider, a previous winner of the Albany Open defeated last year’s finalist B. O’Donnell in a tough semifinal match in three games to reach the championship match for the second time.
Both, M. Schneider and T. Bastidas are being sponsored by the N.Y.A.C. It has been a long time since the Albany Open does not have an all N.Y.A.C. championship finals.
Opportunities were there for the taking Sunday morning for either player, but only Bastidas capitalized. M. Schneider hung around tough in the first game after being outplayed, but could not respond in the second game. Inexplicable, he stumbled after a solid first game.
T. Bastidas continues to amaze as he becomes the youngest player to capture the Albany Open Men’s Singles titles three years in a row. He became the first teenager to capture the Albany Open Title and the only teenager to win it two years in a row.
Bastidas, considered one of the USHA brightest young talents, caused a stir three years ago, when he broke through the open field to capture his first Albany Open Crown.
He will be looking to capture his fourth title in 2011 to pull away further from the pack.
The Albany Open – Curtain falls on team O’Donnell/Schneider as team Bastidas clinch their last Open title of the year – Queens County handball team rally falls short – Kings County handball team takes over the reign for another year – team Bastidas ends season playing for pride – N.Y.A.C. handball team Bastidas captures Open Doubles title.
Above from left: T. Bastidas shooting the ball, B. O'Donnell, J. Bastidas and M. Schneider.
Above: B. O"Donnell getting ready to hit the ball as Tyree(red shirt) and Jurell Bastidas take up positions on both sides of the court.
Pictures above courtesy of Dan Gebben
After a promising first game, the Queens County handball team of B. O’Donnell and M. Schneider fell back to Earth, and eventually fell to team Bastidas, representing Kings County.
During the first game, the Queens County team came back from a big deficit to take the first game. The Kings County team held a big lead early in the game before going cold.
The second game was as hard and frustrating like the first one as team Bastidas was running out of options to find their rhythm.
Three quarters into the second game and down by a wide margin, team Bastidas took a time out and decided to use its last option. They switched sides in spite of its negative consequences in the past, but they had no other choice.
The new formation worked so well and immediately they found their rhythm and the third game to play
Team O’Donnell/Schneider hung tough with team Bastidas before giving up the second game.
The third game was another exciting game as team Bastidas took the lead again, only to have team O’Donnell/Schneider come back with a small rally a little bit too late. The final score was 11-8.
The Kings County handball team of Jurell and Tyree Bastidas took the 11-8 victory into the locker room as they regained their title.
“It is never fun to lose. The more successful, the tougher the losses are. It is all part of the game,” Tyree said of team O’Donnell/Schneider. “At this point, the losses hurt a lot, and this will hurt them a lot.”
The championship match was a N.Y.A.C. handball finale as all four players also represented the N.YA.C. Coach Paul Williams, a N.Y.A.C. member himself was present in this important tournament during the weekend.
Team Bastidas has transformed itself into one of the most powerful teams in the Northeast. The team’s balanced play has helped shape their successful season.
“I think our team has done better than any other team is because we have played together for such a long time as teenagers, and our team is functioning as a balanced team” said Tyree.
“The idea is to bring our skills to the court and play our game” Jurell said. “I think our team can keep performing successfully if we stay healthy and keep our nerves in check.”
Handball news from your handball experts
November 24, 2010
Dear Handball Fan,
Here is your Special edition of Court Shorts. Due to Thanksgiving, we have jam-packed everything you need to know into this one great issue. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!
Kennedy Receives Kendler Award in NY
Bill Kennedy was presented with the Kendler Award at Saturday night's banquet of the Albany Open.
Bill shown with decades-long doubles partner Tom Lynch, wife Kathy and Vern Roberts thanked the Albany event for allowing him to share the night with his friends in the Northeast. Bill also thanked his wife who allowed handball to be such a big part of his life.LICK HERE for more coverage from the event
4-Wall Juniors: Hotel and Entry Deadline Near
The USHA National Juniors Four-Wall Championships are just about a month away in San Diego.
The best junior event of the year is Dec. 27-30, and the sites are the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Visit the Facebook page!
Hotel Info: Book by Dec. 3rd! The Courtyard Marriott is offering a great deal. A standard two-bed room is only $99 per night if booked before Dec. 3rd.
This includes hot breakfast, wi-fi, 32-inch flat-screen TV, pool, Jacuzzi, laundry facilities and more. Call the hotel at 619-291-5720 or CLICK HERE to visit the reservation site.CLICK HERE for the official site and online entry