Where the Present meets the Past: Tyree Bastidas listens to advise from former national champion Howie Eisenberg during the 1-wall nationals.
For the first time in the history of the game, New York players seized the moment and the titles when they captured all USHA National open titles in 1969. Nobody could ever take this away from these amazing handball warriors, who fought fiercely with pride and tenacity to set this new record.
New York players once again proved to be the best players of the game. They can easily adapt, play and capture the 1-, 3- or 4-wall championships at any given time, and unlike 3- or 4-wall players, whose handball abilities and championships are limited to those games, New York players have proven themselves to be the best all around handball players in the sport history.
This amazing new record still stands in the records books and can only be matched by New York players as they are the only players who have historically played and dominated all three handball versions of the game.
Congratulations to the following players who formed part of this amazing milestone:
1969 USHA National Four-Wall Championships
Paul Haber – open singles
Lou Russo and Lou Kramber – open doubles
1969 USHA National Three-Wall Championships
Marty Decatur – open singles
Marty Decatur and Lou Russo – open doubles
1969 USHA National One-Wall Championships
Steve Sandler – open singles
Lou Russo and Joel Wisotsky – open doubles
Tyree started to practice with the big ball at the Shore Road handball courts by the Verrazano Bridge. Here, he is seen posing with his friend Ada.
Recently, Tyree Bastidas has been seen practicing around Brooklyn in order to prepare himself for the 1-wall nationals.
He has opted to revisit the two NYC Parks where he started playing handball for the first time; The Shore Road and the Mill Basin Parks in Brooklyn.
He decided to start his practices with the big ball in order to stretch out his muscles and get his reflexes back. He is also practicing with the small ball, so do not be surprised to see him playing in small ball tournaments…..not to win, but rather to try to get back into his game.
We do not know if he will be ready for the nationals, only time will tell. For now, let’s hope he’ll be ready to defend his title.
L to R: Emilio Sierra, Jurell Bastidas(champion). Yuber Castro(finalist) and Jonathan Milman. Photo by Albert Apuzzi
Tyree K. Bastidas (TKB) AKA “The King of Brooklyn” fell off his throne yesterday during his first appearance at the Coney Island handball courts. He entered his first tournament of the season without the minimum training required to rule the courts. The king was overpowered by Emilio Sierra, who came into the tourney determined to sweep away any opponent on his way. Sierra was in turn swept away by Castro who ended up in the finals of the tournament.
On the bottom side of the draws, Jurell Bastidas had to pick up the pace of his game to race to the finals by defeating three former nationals champions; Tony Roberts, Cesar Sala and at the end Castro.
“I knew Tyree was not going to be ready for this tournament and I doubt he will be ready for the nationals. There is not enough time for him to prepare for it” said Jurell.
“I’m training harder than ever as I feel almost obligated to pick up after Tyree”
There is a family tradition that Tyree and Jurell Bastidas have kept alive since 2004. They have won at least a USHA national title every year for the past 7 years in either junior or open competition. Jurell wants to keep this tradition alive, should his brother fail to deliver.
Tyree Bastidas playing 1-wall(indoors). One-wall is the only handball version in America that can be played indoors or outdoors. Photo by Scott Schilder
For the first time since 2005, no American has captured the Men’s open singles division. The last American to win the national title is Chapman at the 2004 USHA 4-wall nationals and Paul Brady of Ireland is USHA defending champion. P. Brady won’t be able to defend his title this year due to an injury.
When you ask American players about the state of American handball, everything is upbeat.
“I’m actually very happy with the young players at the 4-wall nationals,” Bastidas said. “We have plenty of great players coming up.”
Bastidas is talking about players like. A. Garner, A. Ortiz. E. Peixoto, A. Nett and S. Lenning. And then there are the old reliables like. D. Chapman. D. Fink, D. Armijo and N. Alvarado. On paper, Bastidas is right. But it’s time for an American to step up and win this event.
It’s about time that an American steps into the absence of an injured Paul Brady. Certainly winning the 4-wall nationals is not easy. But after being beaten for the last six years and swept at the US Open of Handball by Irish players, when will an American say, “Enough is enough”?
“American players don’t play enough around the world the way international and European players do.” said T. Bastidas.
“To be one of the best players in the world you need to get on a plane and travel all over and deal with adversities that you might not face here,” Bastidas added.
Bastidas’ statement might have some merit. He did just that on his way to become the greatest junior player. He traveled all over the US, to Canada and even Europe.
The USHA 4-wall national is being played on U.S. soil in front of a U.S. gallery. The potential for an American win is there.
D. Chapman, an eight-time winner, carries America’s best hope to win here, while Fink and Alvarado have won other major Pro stops. But it’s time for the next generation to show it has major talent too.
T. Bastidas poses during the junior nationals at the old Elks facility. Both Tyree and the Elks facility have gone through big transformations. Bastidas became the best 1-wall player in the US, while the Elks facility became the best 1-wall handball facility in the City.
For the second time since 2003, city officials plan to double the cost of a seven –month permit, to $200.00, and raised the cost of lessons at parks in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
“They are raising the fees and limiting access to the community.” said Jurell Bastidas, a tennis enthusiast and a handball player for life.
“I guess a lot of people are going to be playing handball now” added Jurell.
In February, the parks department asked private tennis pros to submit bids to teach lessons at 24 courts in all five boroughs, including parks in low-income neighborhoods.
“That fee hike will stop a lot of people from playing tennis here”. said Tyree
“A lot of people are going to be playing handball as a result of these fees”, added Tyree.
City officials still insist that tennis pros often charge less than the maximum amount, and despite the permit cost increase, playing in city courts is still a bargain.
In another development, The Secretary of the Benevolent and Protective Order (B.P.O.) of Elks (Lodge # 878), Mike Watson, is in talks with City officials to get handball pros to work for the city and teach handball to kids through the summer. We’ll keep you updated as more news develop during this contract negotiations.