Tyree Bastidas tops the best legendary streaks in the history of the game – 10 consecutive victories - Owns The Longest Streak – New York handball players are the best among the best and a cut above the rest – 10…9…8…7…
Above: Since 2004 Tyree has gone up in the air wearing his favorite green shirt. Photo courtesy of Keith Thode.
Above: In 2010 and going through a big transformation from playing in the juniors and into the Open, Tyree has reached and won most of his championship matches from 2004 to 2010.
Above: Rosemary Bellini as a volunteer helps during the 2009 3-wall championships.
Albert Apuzzi (red shirt) during a game at the Coney Island handball courts. Photo courtesy of Keith Thode
The sport of handball has produced some of the best players of the game, but only a handful of them have established new records that have been difficult to match.
The following list is compiled of some of the best players and pioneers of the sport from the AAU and the USHA, who have established legendary winning streaks. Pioneers always have it the toughest, boldly doing what no one else has done before.
New York players: Tyree Bastidas, Vic Hershkowitz and Rosemary Bellini, lead the pack in the Singles division, while Albert Apuzzi leads the pack in the Doubles division in the history of the sport.
Please note, only players with a minimum of 5 consecutive victories can make the honor list:
Congratulations to all players for their extraordinary handball ability to establish these Legendary Streaks.
Junior divisions 1-, 3- & 4-wall:
Tyree Bastidas won 10 consecutive 1-, 3-& 4-wall Singles divisions from 2007-2010
Open division - 1-wall:
Steve Sandler won 6 consecutive 1-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1966-1971
Joe Durso won 6 consecutive 1-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1987-1992
Albert Apuzzi won 7 consecutive 1-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1983-1989
Oscar Obert won 5 consecutive 1-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1959-1963
Anna Calderon won 5 consecutive 1-wall Women’s Singles divisions from 1981-1985
Theresa McCourt won 6 consecutive 1-wall Women’s Doubles divisions from 2004-2009
Open division - 3-wall:
Vic Hershkowitz won 9 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1950-1958
Vince Munoz won 7 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1996-2003
Vern Roberts won 6 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1980-1985
Naty Alvarado won 6 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1980-1985
John Bike Jr won 5 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1988-1992
Dave Dohman won 5 consecutive 3-wall Men’s Doubles divisions from 1988-1992
Rosemary Bellini won 8 consecutive 3-wall Women’s Singles divisions from 1984-1991
Megan Mehilos won 5 consecutive 3-wall Women’s Singles divisions from 2005-2009
Rosemary Bellini won 6 consecutive 3-wall Women's Doubles divisions from 1986-1991
Open division - 4-wall:
Joe Platak won 7 consecutive 4-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1935-1941
Naty Alvarado won 7 consecutive 4-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 1982-1988
*Paul Brady won 6 consecutive 4-wall Men’s Singles divisions from 2005-2010
Jessica Gawley won 5 consecutive 4-wall Women’s Doubles divisions from 2003-2007
*P. Brady is expected to compete at the 2011 USHA 4-wall nationals.
Above: Tyree Bastidas gets ready to kill the ball with his left hand during the 2009 1-wall nationals as Mike Schneider's hopes of re-killing the ball get slim. Photo courtesy of Keith Thode.
Jurell Bastidas says his brother Tyree is likely to miss the spring 4-wall season because of Tyree’s fractured right foot.
Tyree, considered the best junior handball player ever, hurt himself while practicing a 4-wall game against Mike Schneider, the first week of March. He went to the ER right away and was examined by a specialist who recommended putting on a cast on his right foot. The Doctor said Bastidas would probably need up to eight weeks to heal. His absence from handball could stretch to almost a year since he won the national Open Men’s Singles division last August.
Jurell Bastidas could have opted to keep mum about the extent of Tyree’s injury. Instead, he took the high road, going public that Tyree will not be able to return to the spring 4-wall season. As a result, team Bastidas will not be playing for the rest of the season. All Open singles and doubles 4-wall titles in the Northeast will be up for grab.
Tyree Bastidas, who was being sponsored by Owen Gloves, and flown to Iowa to play at the Tall Corn handball tournament in May, will not be able to attend this prestigious event where famous players such as John Sloan, Terry Muck, Paul Haber, Stuffy Singer, Gordon Pfeifer and Dennis Hofflander have participated. Bastidas got the sponsorship through the initiative of P. Williams, who had finalized the arrangements before Bastidas got hurt.
Canadian officials of the CHA (Canadian Handball Association), also invited T. Bastidas to the 2011 Canadian Four-Wall championships in May, and as the current USHA Open national champion, he was invited to perform a 1-wall handball clinic in Calgary, Canada. Bastidas has already politely declined this invitation.
T. Bastidas – Master of consistency – reaches finals of 1-wall Open Men’s division five consecutive times – great milestone reached by teenager Open national champion.
Above: Bastidas returning a ball with his left hand during a long rally at the Men's Open as referee Joe Durso keeps an eye on the ball. Photo courtesy of Keith Thode
T. Bastidas became the first teenager to have reached the finals of the USHA-sanctioned One-Wall Pro stop H.E.S. event in 2008. Ever since then, he has made sure, he always reaches the finals regardless of the number of national champions in the draw. It is important to note that he has won most of these tournaments, including the USHA 1-wall nationals.
It is hard to believe, but somehow, whether he played his first or second event at the Pro level, he always found his way to the championship match.
The following results show his consistency of reaching and/or winning the finals.
2008 H.E.S. 1-Wall Pro-stop. There were 7 Open national champions in the draw. He reached the finals.
2009 USHA 1-wall Nationals. There were 15 national champions in the draw. He reached the finals.
2009 H.E.S. 1-Wall Pro-stop. There were 7 Open national champions in the draw. He reached the finals.
2010 USHA 1-wall Nationals. There were 10 national champions in the draw. He reached the finals.
2010 H.E.S. 1-Wall Pro-stop. There were 6 Open national champions in the draw. He reached the finals.
Playing his best as a teenager at the H.E.S., the biggest indoor USHA-sanctioned one-wall Pro Stop ultimately helped him capture the USHA Open national title. He plans to win the 2011 National 1-wall championship match to mark a new record of consistency stretching from 2008 to 2011.
It’s one more chapter of history for the current youngest national champion from New York.
The streak, though, takes it to another level, certainly raising the profile of juniors playing in the Open division.
The current national handball champion Tyree Bastidas knows he will be out of handball competition during the spring season, and his game will decline by the time his Dr cuts his cast off. But his solution is not to increase his conditioning or to lift more weights. Instead, he plans to increase his nap-time, seizing on an element of U.S.H.A. life as common as a serve and shoot shot.
“If you nap every game day, all those hours add up and it allows you to get through the season better,” Bastidas said.” I want to improve at that, so by the end of the year, I'll feel better.”
In the United States, napping is often stigmatized, seen as evidence of laziness or a lack of purpose. But in the world of sports, and certainly in the handball sport napping is particularly important.
Bastidas, 20, said his naps typically lasted 60 minutes, sometimes two hours. Asked if every handball player napped before the games, he said: “I don’t know if everybody does, but I do. And now that I’m inactive in handball I’m learning to appreciate everything about resting and naptime.
“When you wake up from a nap, you know what time it is, and get focused and go to the game,” Bastidas said. “I plan on keeping my nap routine once I start playing again.”
Above: Tyree Bastidas who usually spends most of his time behind the short line will be spending plenty of time behind the long line refereeing some games of the USHA one-wall doubles Pro-stop at the H.E.S. Photo courtesy of Keith Thode
As the second WPH 1/4-wall handball event will pit the best East Coast handball players versus the best West Coast handball players at the end of March, New Yorkers will get to see a preview of the best teams competing for the highest honor.
California handball stars Sal Duenas and Samson Hernandez will be traveling East to play in the prestigious USHA 1-wall doubles Pro-stop event, played at the H.E.S on March 20. They’ll be testing their handball skills against some of the best one-wall players from the east.
Pennsylvania top handball player Wally Amaro from Philadelphia, PA will also be playing at the USHA 1-Wall Doubles Pro-stop as a tune-up for the aforementioned handball event.
WPH handball official, D. Fink, from Pittsburg, PA, will be on site to cover the event, to sell handball gear, promote the game, and to offer WPH All Access Passes to watch handball games.
Tyree Bastidas, the current USHA national 1-wall champion with the small and the big ball, will not be able to play in either event, but will support the USHA Pro-stop tournament by refereeing some of the games and helping at the tournament desk.
SkyBounce will kick off the 2011 spring big ball handball season during the day. Don’t miss this event, bring the entire family.
Tickets to watch all the games are only $5.00 per person. Games start at 09:30AM, and doors open at 09:00AM for early birds. A. Apuzzi will be on site as early as 9:00AM to set up the desk, and collect some of the entry fees. Bring your valid ICHA membership card for a $10.00 discount.
If you need more information about this event or wish to support it, contact the tournament Director Albert Apuzzi at: email@example.com or call him at: 917-562-9756
Above: Stephen Cooney (yellow shirt) from Ireland was the toughest player T. Bastidas had to face during the 2010 juniors 1-wall nationals in New York, which had moved indoors at the Elks due to rain.
Above from left: USHA official , M. Krueger walks behind Fergal Collins(Ireland) and Tyree Bastidas during their championship match at the 2009 USHA National Juniors Three-Wall Championships. Photo by VenicePaparazzi.com.
Here in New York for a quarter of a millennium, an iconic New York celebration has taken over Manhattan. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade hit the streets of New York in 1762. It is a tradition of observing the anniversary of the death of St Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland.
As the years went by, the local celebrations also honored Irish immigrants for their perseverance, unity and accomplishments through rough times. It’s the largest celebration of Irish-American heritage and culture.
Ireland has produced some of the best handball players at home and abroad. In recent years, we proudly cheered Irish players’ accomplishments who have dominated the international stage by capturing USHA and World titles.
Previous Irish Handball Legends include: Pat Kirby and Ducksy Walsh. This year, current Irish National champion Paul Brady, a sixth-times consecutive winner of the USHA 4-wall Nationals looks forward to cement his legacy by winning the 2011 USHA National Four-Wall Men’s Singles division to tie All-time record holders Joe Platak and Naty Alvarado.
Irish handball players have dominated the 4-wall handball circuit during the first decade, and have grown hungry for more and better competition. They are now playing outdoors trying to capture the USHA national titles in 1-, and 3-wall championships.
Irish handball star, Michael Finnegan (Cavan) tried his luck in 2001, and Paul Brady reached the semifinals of the 2004 USHA 3-wall championships.
Junior Irish players also tried their luck at the USHA 3-wall junior nationals at Venice Beach, California, where Fergal Collins and Stephen Cooney reached the championship match in 2009 and 2010 respectively, only to face Tyree during the Bastidas’ era.
Stephen Cooney also played at the 2010 USHA junior 1-wall nationals in New York and played like a champion. In the end, he was stopped by T. Bastidas.
To our immense pride, Ireland’s high competitiveness level of play rose faster than most countries, its success trumpeted the world over.
USHA Pro 1-Wall Doubles, Presented by the WPH
& SkyBounce International Team Competition
Above: D. Fink posing with his wife Tricia while managing the desk.
Above: J. Bastidas, teaming up with P. Angel, returns a ball playing against defending champions J. Kaplan and C. Sala.
Above: S. Au returns a ball as T. McCourt, D. Daskalakis and J.Lopez get ready for the action.
1-Wall Doubles @ H.E.S.
by david fink
Above from left: J. Kaplan. P. Castro, W. Polanco and C. Sala
Brooklyn, New York: The top 1‐wall players gathered from both coasts and international waters to compete for the prestigious USHA Pro 1‐Wall Doubles Presented by the WPH and the SkyBounce International Team Competition at the H.E.S. in Brooklyn, New York, this past weekend.
The small ball pro‐stop featured defending National Champions “Lefty Willie” Polanco and Yuber “Pee Wee”Castro. Polanco and Castro faced a very deep field intent on toppling their throne atop the 1‐wall doubles world.
Samzon Hernandez and Sal Duenas made the long trip from Southern California to test their formidable handballskills in 1‐wall handball. Cesar “Captain Hardball” Sala and Joe Kaplan (2010 H.E.S. champs), Mike Schneider and Billy O'Donnell, and young sensations Josh Garcia and Givanni “Gio” Vazquez as well as Timothy “Timbo” Gonzalez and David “Snuka” Rodriguez were all hungry to start 2011 with a pro stop win.
All matches were one game to 21 points. The matches were fast and the action was intense. Teams had very little margin for error. Any poor stretch of play or lack in concentration would eliminate them from the event.
The Southern Californians were dismissed by Alvaro Rebaza and Kareem Wilkerson. Unable to adjust to the strategy, the shot selection, and the 1‐wall blocking, the Californians were eliminated in the first round.
Top seeded and four‐time H.E.S. Champions Polanco and Castro cruised to the semis where a rematch of the USHA National 1‐Wall final awaited.
Big ball standout Gio Vazquez and rising star Josh Garcia seemed poised to end the dominance of the seasoned team of Polanco and Castro. Gio has been playing small ball for just one year, and has quickly become a top open player. His 17 year‐old partner, Joshua “The Baby‐Faced Assassin" Garcia will undoubtedly become one of the top players in the sport in the coming years. Polanco and Castro decisively informed the youngsters that while they may be the future, it is Polanco and Castro who ARE the present. Polanco and Castro dismantled the bewildered youngsters 21‐8 to advance to the final.
Joe Kaplan and Cesar Sala were seeded second, and narrowly escaped their first round encounter with Andres “Playstation” Calle and “Baseball Chris” Miranda 21‐18. Kaplan and Sala easily advanced to the semifinals where third seeded Mike Schneider and Billy “The Bus” O'Donnell waited.
Schneider and The Bus have been dominating the New York 4‐ wall events this winter, along with Tyree “Boy Wonder” Bastidas. Schneider and The Bus looked very sharp, easily advancing to the semis behind blowout wins in their opening two rounds.
Unlike the first semifinal, this semifinal would be extremely competitive and heated throughout. The teams traded flat kills and leads early in the match, and with Sala and Kaplan trailing 8‐12, Cesar ignited with a ferocious serve and devastating fly kill. Cesar scored nine consecutive points for his team to grab a 17‐12 lead. The Bus willed his team back into the match with incredible diving re‐kills, and was serving at 16‐17 to tie the match. A controversial call at 16‐17 removed The Bus and Schneider from the service box, and the momentum quickly shifted towards living legends Sala and Kaplan. Sala and Kaplan did not relinquish the momentum, and closed out their foes 21‐17 to setup a clash with long‐time rivals Polanco and Castro for the title and the cash.
The Final quickly became an instant classic. All action in the building halted to watch these four superstars compete for yet another major title in a one game showdown to 25.
Polanco and Castro frustrated Sala and Kaplan with their unrelenting pressure and mistake‐free handball. Polanco kept nearly every rally alive while Castro forced numerous errors by hitting powerful drives at the feet of Sala and Kaplan.
Leading 23‐16, the title seemed to be inevitable for Polanco and Castro. Cesar quickly erased the seemingly insurmountable lead. Huge hop serve aces and deep‐court flat rollouts quickly tied the score, and implausibly, it was Kaplan serving to win the match at 24‐23. Cesar had an opportunity to end the match with a crosscourt spike into the left corner, but he missed his mark by eight inches, and it was Polanco and Castro with new life. An un‐returnable serve from Polanco and a blistering drive from Castro gave the top seeds the title.
Above from left: T. McCourt, J. Lopez, B. Jackson and D. Ten.
The Women’s division featured the return of Sarah Au, one of the most promising juniors in the history of the sport (after a three year layoff), plus the irrepressible Theresa McCourt, and top seeds Dori Ten and Barbara Jackson.
Ten and Jackson showed they can still play top level women’s handball into their third decade in the pro game, defeating youngsters Racquel Garcia and Katherine Wong 21‐14.
One of the top one wall and four wall players Southpaw Danielle Daskalakis teamed with former rival Sarah Au to challenge McCourt and Lopez in the other semifinal.
The match was emotional throughout with screams of joy and despair ringing through the H.E.S. Center. Au appeared to be hesitant and somewhat nervous following her layoff, and McCourt and Lopez pressured her throughout the match. The pressure and shot making was too much to overcome for Au and Daskalakis as McCourt and Lopez pulled away at the end of the match for a 21‐16 win.
Jackson and Ten fell behind 8‐3. Barbara and Dori tied the score at 11 before Lopez and McCourt caught fire again. Time‐outs at 14‐11 & 17‐11 couldn't stop the momentum. McCourt and Lopez prevailed with a 21‐11 win to collect the title and the cash.
by david fink
Above from left: W. Amaro, H. Mendez, Skybounce representative Chris Vasquez, W. Polanco and C. Rosa.
The SkyBounce Men’s big ball competition between the U.S.A., Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Ecuador commenced upon the completion of the small ball event.
Action was furious as players played not only for their teams, but their countries as well. Players wore country uniforms, and the event felt like the Olympics. National pride flooded the courts as the top big ball players from across the globe fought for bragging rights for their country.
Sal “The Wizard” Duenas and Samzon “Totoy” Hernandez represented Mexico, and were soundly defeated by Team Ecuador, represented by Andres Calle and Chris Miranda in the opening match. Team Ecuador then faced top seeded Team Puerto Rico, led by Herman “El Duro” Mendez, Wally Amaro, and Gio Vazquez. Puerto Rico prevailed 21‐13 behind the power of El Duro and the craftiness of Wally Amaro.
The other semifinal featured Team U.S.A., represented by Timbo and Ray Lopez facing Team Dominican Republic, represented by “Lefty Willie” Polanco and Calin Rosa. Numerous 40 shot rallies pushed players to the brink. Polanco battled through exhaustion and soreness to win the most exciting match of the SkyBounce competition for the Dominican Republic 21‐18 to meet Team Puerto Rico in the final.
Gio Vazquez substituted for Wally Amaro to partner with Herman Mendez. Gio left no doubt as to why he is one of the top three big ball players in the world, flashing his dazzling speed and offense to control the final. Polanco was visibly exhausted after five matches during the day, and could not summon the energy to lead his team past Team Puerto Rico. Team Puerto Rico rejoiced at the short line after Gio Vazquez ended the match with a spike to win 21‐14.
Above from left: S. Murphy, I. Crespo, L. Acevedo, M. Crespo, and K. McConney with a friend..
Team Puerto Rico completed the SkyBounce sweep when Cheyleen Cruz and Maggie Crespo defeated Yvette Crespo and Karen McConney of Team U.S.A. in the final 21‐11. The women’s SkyBounce competition also highlighted teams from China and Mexico.
Combining the small ball and big ball, the men and women, and players from across the United States and the globe created an incredible energy and electricity at the H.E.S. Players and fans were treated to the top one wall players in the world competing with the small ball and the big ball, competing for themselves, their teams, and their countries.
Special thanks to the Red Bull, The ICHA and Paul Williams, Chris Vasquez from SkyBounce, the USHA, tournament director Albert Apuzzi, and the WPH. More pictures posted on Facebook HERE…
New York State produced the most teenagers winning and/or reaching the most Open finals at the same USHA nationals in any handball version.
Tyree Bastidas (age19), Sandy Ng (age 17), and Joshua Garcia (age 17) are the only teenagers in the USHA to have won and/or reached (together) the most open championship matches of a USHA nationals in the same year.
They reached the championship match of the 2010 USHA National 1-wall championships.
Tyree Bastidas – played/won the finals of the Open Men’s Singles division.
Sandy Ng – played/won the finals of the Open Women’s Singles division.
Sandy Ng – played/won the finals of the Open Women’s Doubles division.
Joshua Garcia – played in the finals of the Open Men’s Doubles division.