Handball player for life.

1-wall nationals history speckled with gold

by Howie Eisenberg

The 50th USHA national One-Wall Championships are history. Having played in the first and virtually every one thereafter until moving west 27 years later, this golden anniversary evoked many memories for me.

Highlights of the great tournaments of the past follow. USHA Hall of Famers are denoted by boldface type.


Note:The following USHA 1-wall handball championships are published in the USHA Handball Magazine, and published online with the permission of its Author, Howie Eisenberg.

It’s a reminder of the glorious days of the past and a learning experience for the current handball generation to honor the greatest champions of the game.

The USHA National One-Wall Open Championships is the only handball version that has been won by local players and kept at home for more than 50 years.

New Yorkers have also been able to capture the USHA national 3- and 4-wall Championships many times.

Salute to the greatest players of the past and to the best players of the game!

Most photos by Bill Fand

1959 USHA National One-Wall Championships 






The inaugural tournament at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn with 75 entries in open singles and 64 teams in open doubles.

Oscar Obert, 28, defeats all-time great Vic Hershkowitz in the singles final and then slams with brother Ruby in doubles. Nine consecutive days of singles and doubles prove too much for Hershkowitz, 41, who also loses in the doubles final with Irving”Lefty” Kirzner before and avid standing-room-only crowd of 950.

At the start of the tournament, Kirzner, a house painter, could be seen painting the newly constructed second indoor court at the Boys club.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1960 USHA National One-Wall Championships





Additional seating allows 1,300 to view 230 participants vying for national honors.

Six-time NYC Parks Department champion Sheila Maraschick defeats Beverly Childs in the first USHA women’s singles tournament in any form of handball.

Irving”the Mayor” Rosenblatt and Harold “Snowy” Valenstein become the first one-wall masters doubles champs as they beat former two-time open singles champ Harold Hanft and Marty Grossman 21-20 in the third game.

Oscar Obert comes back from a 21-11 second game loss in the open singles final to 21 year-old Howie Eisenberg to take the third. Of the 99 total points, 55 are scored on aces. A controversial call results in an Oscar Ruby Obert 21-20 victory in the open doubles final over Eisenberg and Joe Danilczyk. Ken Davidoff and wins the first one-wall 19-and-under singles championship in three games over Winfield Balance.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.


1961 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





A total of 346 entrants vie in open singles (99), open doubles (80 teams), masters doubles (44 teams), women’s singles (29) and juniors singles (70).

Oscar Obert gets revenge for Steve Sandler’s 61 national AAU sweep of Ruby, Oscar and Carl Obert by defeating Sandler in the singles final. He again slams with Ruby over another brother team, Charlie and Joe Danilczyk.

Ann Henby upsets Sheila Maraschick in women’s singles.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1962 USHA National One-Wall Championships





The tournament continues to grow, with 501 entrants: 105 in open singles, 102 teams in open doubles, 46 teams in masters doubles, 25 in women’s singles and 83 in juniors singles.

Ken Davidoff takes the singles championship away from Oscar Obert with twin 21-19 wins as the 20-year-old prevails with sharply angle serves inches high and lofted off-hand defensive returns that trump Obert’s power and kills.

The Oberts earn a measure of revenge in a come-from-behind victory over Davidoff/Eisenberg, who had beaten them in the 62 AAU nationals.

Davidoff/Eisenberg were coming off a dominating 21-12, 21-3 win over Marty Decatur/Joe Denilczyk.

Sheila Maraschick regains the women’s title, defeating Beverly Childs.

Lou Russo edges Dan Flickstein in the juniors.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1963 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





With Ken Davidoff, who followed his USHA win with complete domination of Oscar Obert in the 63 AAU nationals, unable to defend because of college commitments, Obert recaptures the open singles with a final win over his brother Carl.

Oscar and Ruby win the fourth straight open doubles, beating the Danilczyks.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1964 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





Oscar Obert once again prevails over a 110-entry open singles field in a bizarre final over Steve Sandler, who after taking a 20-12 third game lead, elects to play only with his left (off) hand until 20-20. Sandler then apparently kills a ball from beyond the long line, only to have it ruled a skip, ending the match. The referee is in a deciding minority, as many of the 1,300 fans see it good.

Obert doesn’t fare as well in the 110-team open doubles, as he and Ruby are on the wrong end of a 21-20 semifinal loss to power-hook-serving Joe Danilczyk and smooth-swinging Davy Norvid.

Oscar retires in the second game with severe back spasm.

Sheila Maraschick wins over her fourth women’s singles, and Wally Ulbrich reigns supreme over a 110-entry junior field.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1965 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





A record 690 entrants combine in the open singles (128), open doubles (128 teams), master doubles (44teams), juniors singles (138) and pink-ball singles (80).

The big O, Oscar Obert, wins his sixth singles title as brother Ruby defaults in the final after coming back from a 21-3, 13-0 deficit in the semis against Howie Eisenberg. However, Eisenberg/Arty Reyer beat the Oberts in the doubles semis. That momentum carries them to a 20-12 second-game advantage over Wally Ulbrich/Kenny Holmes.

With history repeating itself Eisenberg hits an apparent match-ending kill shot, only to have it called a skip, counter to the view of most spectators. Ulbrich/Holmes get up, run out the game and take the tiebreaker and the championship.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1966 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





The event draws 646 entrants: 130 in open singles, 116 teams in open doubles, 40 teams in master doubles, 130 in juniors singles and 74 in novice singles.

After taking the 66 national AAU title over Howie Eisenberg in three games, Steve Sandler wins his first USHA open singles crown, going through Carl Obert, Ruby Obert and Ken Gamble with relative ease. Then together with Eisenberg, Sandler overcomes Oscar and Ruby Obert in the open doubles semis but falls short in a two-point loss to Arty Reyer/Joe Danilczyk.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn. 

1967 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





Steve Sandler repeats in open singles, beating Howie Eisenberg in the final. Jim Jacobs makes his one-wall debut playing open doubles with Sandler. They come close to dethroning Arty Reyer/Joe Danilczyk but lose when Jacobs jumps to hit a fly shot that would have been long at match point. Reyer/Danilczyk get up and win, then defeat a young Joel Wisotsky/Steve Gallo.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1968 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





Steve Sandler defeats Howie Eisenberg, who ran through Ruby Obert and 68 national AAU singles champ Marty Decatur in the quarters and semis.

In doubles, Joel Wisotsky/Lou Russo conquer Arty Reyer/Joe Danilczyk in the semis. They win the first game of the final easily against Ruby and Carl Obert and lead 20-14 in the second. But after Ruby calls for three consecutives timeouts, they lose the second and third. Carl and Ruby had beaten Sandler/Marty Decatur in the semis.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1969 USHA National One-Wall Championships 





Déjà vu in the open singles, as Howie Eisenberg once again vanquishes Ruby Obert only to be taken down by Steve Sandler in the final in three.

Joel Wisotsky/Lou Russo take the doubles with a semifinal win over Eisenberg/Joe Danilczyk and a final victory over 51-year-old Vic Hershkowitz/Ruby Obert.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1970 USHA National One-Wall Championships 




Steve Sandler defeats Ken Davidoff in the semis and then wins his fifth straight open singles over a 140-entry field. He breezes through the final with twin 21-9 wins over Mike Dikman, who defeated Howie Eisenberg after coming back from a 21-11, 20-14 deficit in the semifinals. Sandler transcend himself in the open doubles, slamming with lightly regarded Don Weber. They cope with the sharp hooks and power of Marty Katzen, playing with Sorrel Feldman, then dethrone the more balance team of Joel Wisotsky/Lou Russo. The 92nd Street YMHA takes team honors by virtue of the strong performance of Sandler, Weber, Katzen, Marty Grossman and Mitchell and Gary Straus.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1971 USHA National One-Wall Championships





Steve Sandler extends his domination with his sixth consecutive singles title, vanquishing Mark Levine. Sandler adds the pink-ball singles championship (originally (big ball).

In the 102-team open doubles, Wally Ulbrich/ArtyReyer defeat Sandler/Don Weber and then Howie Eisenberg and 19-year-old Neil Bocian, who had replaced the injured Ken Davidoff, with whom Eisenberg/Bocian had rolled through Ruby and Carl Obert after losing the first game of the semis, while Ulbrich/Reyer had swept defending champions Sandler/Weber in two.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1972 USHA National One-Wall Championships





Steve Sandler is brought down by an injury and Wally Ulbrich takes it all, beating Charlie Sheldon in the final of the 102-man open singles field. Ulbrich slams with Mark Levine over Howie Eisenberg/Ruby Obert, who fall short by a point in the first before succumbing to Ulbrich’s onslaught in the second. Ken Ginty wins his second consecutive juniors singles, and Al Torres wins the pink ball.


Note: This event took place at the Brownsville Boys Club in Brooklyn.

1973 USHA National One-Wall Championships




The nationals move to the Flatbush YMCA after a 14-year run at the Brownsville Boys Club as Steve Sandler recaptures the championship over Flip Wolfarth in a 21-18 third game. Sandler holds on for a 21-20 second game win over Al Torres after winning 21-4 in the semis.

In the open doubles semis, Joel Wisotsky/Lou Russo and Sandler/Ken Davidoff each win easily over Mark Levine/Marcel Goldbarb and Arty Reyer/Wally Ulbrich, respectively, after splitting two 21-20 games in the final, Wisotsky’s power and fly kills backed up by Russo’s triumph over the great singles champions.

This was the last handball game Davidoff was ever to play, as a serious back problem ended his illustrious career at 31.


Note: This event took place at the Flatbush YMCA in Brooklyn.

1974 USHA National One-Wall Championships





This year marks a changing of the guard, as Al Torres defeats Steve Sandler and Wally Ulbrich defeats Howie Eisenberg. Torres goes on to take the title. This was suppose to be the last top-four singles finish for the 35-year-old Eisenberg, and the 34 year-old Sandler will not make another appearance in the semis until seven years later.

In the Open doubles, Eisenberg/Marty Decatur advance to the final with a victory over Arty Reyer/Mike Dikman to face Ulbrich/Joel Wisotsky. After a 21-20 first game win by Eisenberg and Decatur, born one day apart, Ulbrich/Wisotsky power to victory in three games.

1975-1976: No events held