2010 USHA National One-Wall Championships – teens exert strangleholds on Open titles – Youth movement takes over 1-wall.
Above: T. Bastidas getting ready to hit the ball. Bastidas and Ng ensured that no one older than 19 would win a national Open title.
By Dan Flickstein
If there ever were words suitable for a set of circumstances, the English proverb “Youth will be served” surely applies to the 2010 National One-Wall Championships.
Although it was not the first time a teenager had won the men’s open singles, it proved unique that the women’s championship was also captured by a person who was still in her teens.
Sandy Ng, just 17 when she defeated Theresa McCourt in the final, became the youngest woman since Anna Calderon to top the women’s one-wall singles field.
Not to take anything away from Calderon, who was 16 when she took her first singles title in 1981 and won five in a row, but other than Resemary Bellini, competition among women back then was not as strong as it has been for the last 10 years. In fact, it was occasionally so meager in the “80’s” that Calderon had to compete in men’s B events.
When Ng’s win is placed adjacent to the championships attained by Bastidas, it is easy to arrive at the conclusion that one-wall handball is truly a young person’s game – at least on 2010. Yet men like Steve Sandler, Ruby Obert, Al Torres, Joe Durso and Albert Apuzzi won national one-wall singles titles when past 40. But 2010 belonged to the kids!
Ng entered this year’s tournament with no expectations of winning. “I just wanted to do my best” she said on the day she turned 18.
Bastidas, who had predicted the open title for himself the previous year before falling to Satish Jagnandan in the semis, claims he did not expect to win this year. “I wasn’t playing enough one-wall, and I had just come from completing the three-wall juniors,” he said. ”I thought I might be able to get to the semis again. I thought that at least Cesar Sala or Satish would beat me.”
Bastidas and Ng made efforts to stay in good condition to enable them to play their best. Ng bikes on a regular basis, but mainly for fun. “A week before the tournament,” she said, I sprint to get in shape and to practice moving quickly. It also makes my endurance better. But I’m not that careful about what I eat.”
Bastidas, however, claims to be very selective about his diet. “I stay away from fatty foods, ice creams, sweets – all unnecessary stuff,” he said. “But I always eat that way, not just before a tournament.”
“This year I didn’t play much one-wall, but a week before the nationals, I came to Coney Island every day just to play singles and to get used to playing in the hot sun. That did help my training and conditioning.”
During Ng’s march to the title, she felt particularly concerned about playing friend and doubles partner Danielle Daskalakis. “She always beats me in tiebreakers,” Ng said. So this year Ng escaped a tiebreaker and eliminated Daskalakis in two straight 21-14, 21-13.
“In the final I really needed to stay calm and consistent against Theresa,” Ng said. “She is a great player and very tough mentally. “But my strategy for playing her was the same as I use for anyone I play – serve hard and, whenever possible, take the return on a fly. But even when I had 10 points on her in the tiebreaker, I was shaky. She still could have come back and win.”
Bastidas admitted to feeling similarly about strategy, always playing the same game no matter whom his opponent is. “ “I always go with the best I have,” he said “And I never watch the draw. Whoever I have to play, I play. This year I wasn’t too surprised when Cesar lost, but I was shocked when I heard that Satish lost. I wondered how good Willie Polanco was playing to be able to beat him.”
Contradicting his own comments about not strategizing, Bastidas discussed his match against rookie Wright, who led 19-10 in the first game before defaulting with a pulled hamstring muscle.
“I didn’t feel I was out of the match,” Bastidas said. “I was going to stop shooting and just run him with angles to get him more tired for the second game, I know how hard he fights for every point. “But I’m sorry he had to forfeit, I wanted to get the win by playing, not from a default.”
“When I played Saul Gonzalez, he was playing intense and serving well. At 19-up in Game 2, he seemed to slow a bit, and I felt I could go all out. It’s a short game, and I have no worries about tiring.”
In the final against Polanco, Bastidas confessed to being very concerned because he had to face the man who had upset defending champion Jagnandan. “I warmed up well,” Bastidas said. “I didn’t want to make any careless mistakes in the beginning. Even with all that, I made four errors right away.” “I decided I needed to do some real service damage, so I served everything with hopes to his right. His right returns defensively, so I hoped for setups.”
Again for a guy who said he plays the same against everyone, it seems that his planning and thinking helped him to win the title.
Ng not only won the singles but teamed with Daskalakis to slam. “Singles is a lot of harder than doubles,” Ng said. “I was relieved when the singles was over. But winning the singles gave me confidence in the doubles. “Danielle and I make a good righty-lefty combination. I was tired during the doubles. But I didn’t have to run as much. Against Barbara Canton- Jackson and Dori Ten, I must have had an adrenaline rush. Danielle and I both went all out in the tiebreaker for an 11-2 win.”
For the second year in a row, a doubles title eluded Bastidas. In 2009, he made it to the final with Joe Durso, now past his prime for many years. “Everybody knows what a great player he is, but he wastes energy arguing,” Bastidas said of his partner. I think it makes him cold when he gets back to playing. It makes it tough to play with him.”
Bastidas had considerable praise for this year’s partner, David Chapman. “He is a very smart, very solid player. Bastidas said. He really knows how to pace himself. I think he needs to be a little bit more aggressive in a one-wall game.”
Ng and Bastidas have been friends for about six years, having met, unsurprisingly, on a handball court in Brooklyn. Each is impressed with how the other plays, but Bastidas thinks Ng could take some of the pace out of her style.
“Playing so hard every point makes her game predictable,” he said.
Ng believes that Bastidas, when under intense pressure during a match, should be a little “safer” in his shot selection.
In junior high school, Ng began to play handball on a wall, not a regulation court, behind her school. She and four friends played there regularly, even against the boys. Who she claims, she beat regularly.
Initially she loved the running component of the game, though now she has become a serve-and-shoot advocate.
She was unable to join a handball team in high school because the school she attended focuses on media and drama and had no sports teams.
Bastidas, of course, had already accumulated a long history of junior tournament championships in one-, three- and four-wall, which was chronicled in the august 2009 issue of Handball. His introduction to handball in a Brooklyn Park was also detailed then.
The young champions went their separate ways this autumn. Ng was off to Lake Forest College, where she will major in biology. Recommended to the school by Coach Mike Dau, Ng will join his four-wall team.
“I’ve seen some improvement in my four-wall game, but I still need to get a lot of better off the back wall, and I need to learn pace control,” She said.
Bastidas will be taking a semester off from his education “to make some money,” he said. “I would still like to be a Phys Ed teacher someday, but I want other things too. I love playing the piano, especially the rhythms. I love it as much as playing handball. I would like to learn to compose music. But I need some lessons, and that takes money.”
Ng said she would return next year to defend her title and would train “twice” as hard to keep it.
Bastidas echoed his friend’s desire to successfully defend.
“I want to win next year, too. So everyone will realize that his year was not a fluke,” he said. “I’ll be playing and staying in shape for it. I’ll be ready.”
But next year only one of them will be a teenager.
Handball news from your Handball Experts
September 14, 2010
From NY to AZ: Bastidas Family Tours Hall of Fame
2010 One-Wall National Champion and Three-Wall runner-up Tyree Bastidas dropped by the USHA Hall of Fame in Tucson this past weekend with his family.
The Bastidas family made sure to schedule a stop during their vacation.
Make your trip to the Hall of Fame! The USHA Hall of Fame, located in Tucson, AZ., serves as America's shrine to the game of handball. It honors the heritage of the sport, acknowledges great athletes and contributors, and encourages participation of all ages. . CLICK HERE to learn more.
2010 World 3-Wall Ball Championships – Little turns tide - rallies past Bastidas
Above: Tyree shoots the ball during the quarterfinal match against T. Little.
On a scorching day where the temperature topped 100 degrees, Tommy Little and Tyree Bastidas played one of the longest matches of the day as it had to be settled in three games.
Strange enough, these two players had never played against each before, and after a seemingly interminable week of heat, the patient crowd turned up to watch the first game of the afternoon.
It was T. Little at his finest. The veteran 3-wall Kansas City turned in a masterful last minute performance to come back from an 8-5 deficit over the New York kid, and earned his pass to the semifinals. The final result derailed a collision match between the best youngest handball players in the world, T. Bastidas and L. Moreno.
According to D. Vincent, Executive Director of the WPH organization “ Second-seeded Boy Wonder Bastidas faced the Wily Midwestern Gentleman Tommy The Gun Little in what became the most exciting match of the small ball portion of the tournament. Tommy was impressive the day before beating his long-time rival Billy Mehilos, but few expected the soon-to-be 37 year-old to offer much resistance against the Brooklyn Bomber. Tommy is one of the few players with experience on the modified courts, and the experience showed in a first game blowout of Boy Wonder. Tyree looked to be dead in the heat, trailing 11-5 in the second game, but he summoned the energy to battle to a 21-18 victory. The tiebreaker was close throughout, and when Tyree led 8-5, it looked as though Tommy's Cinderella Story had ended. Tommy mustered the energy is the blazing sun to score six of the next seven points to shock Tyree and the handball world to earn his spot in the semifinals”
With the final result, T. Bastidas looks to concentrate his game in the Pro Open Doubles division, teaming up with one-wall Open doubles champion Willie Polanco.
Handball news from your handball experts
September 24, 2010
WOR / WPH 3 Wall Ball Championships
The USHA's Matt Stamp is covering the event through Sunday. Don't forget to stay with the USHA on Facebook for photos, results, updates and more!
Above: Tyree Bastidas gets ready to power a shot in his quarterfinal match. Tommy Little edged Tyree, 9, (18), 9.