Photo by Bill Fand - Gloves by Owen.
Defending champion Tyree Bastidas once again took home the Men’s Pro Singles title on Sunday by posting a 21-4, 21-14 victory over Yuber “Peewee” Castro.
“It was kind of like revenge,” described Bastidas.
Back in 2011, Castro defeated Bastidas in the USHA National One-Wall Championships, but the top seed contender admitted that he did not even think about his loss against Castro until the match began—just twenty minutes after Castro lost in the Men’s Pro Doubles division with Carlin Rosa against Cesar Sala and Joseph Kaplan.
After Bastidas toppled Kaplan in the semifinals, 21-3, 21-3, the precocious top seed felt confident in his next match against Castro.
“I thought I was serving really well, which made me feel ready for [Castro],” he said.
Before Bastidas had met Castro in the final, he had easily dispatched Tony Choi, 21-13, Jonathan Lee, 25-8, and Joe Kaplan, 21-3, 21-3.
Against Castro, Bastidas found that to “serve and kill is always the best way to dictate the game,” he said.
Bastidas defines himself as an aggressive player—intense and determined, someone who doesn’t “give up on the ball.” While Castro’s power may match up to Bastidas’, he lacks an left hand that can play offense as well as defense.
Bastidas’ better left allowed him to counter Castro’s cross-court serve to the left—the “Peewee serve.” He took advantage of Castro’s weakness and maintained low serves to Castro’s non-dominate hand and surprised him with low right serves when he had the chance.
“In the volley, I would just keep it high on the left and wait to drive him out of the front so I can shoot comfortably,” Bastidas said.
This is the second consecutive Men’s Pro Singles title the young star player has accumulated. However, youth has always been a double-edged sword for juniors, and Bastidas is no exception. Although he is, more often than not, lauded for being “the most decorated junior national champion ever” with thirteen national titles in one-, three- and four-wall handball by the age of 16, most still have trouble coming to terms with Bastidas’ young age.
Simply put in the words of Castro, “you’ve beaten this kid before.”
Whether it was due to fatigue or poor luck, the Men’s Pro Singles finalist could not defeat the 5’ 9” 21-year-old.
Photo above: Alexis Cloutier from Vancouver, Canada in action.
Photo above: Lorraine Havern from Newry.Co. Down, Ireland hits the ball.
Photo Above: Lisa Frazer from Winnipeg, Canada shoots from the front.
National champions Lisa Frazer from Canada and Lorraine Havern from Ireland traveled to New York to compete to try to capture the women open division. There is only one woman outside New York who had been able to win the title (singles).
This year the women’s draw had at least three foreign players and more than five players with national titles under their belts. Handball fans were happy to see and appreciate new talent outside New York.
Canadian champion Lisa Frazer had her hopes dashed when she played against Irish champion Lorraine Havern.
In the championship match, defending national champion Sandy Ng battled for three arduous games against former national champion Tracy Davis. But Davis experience paid off during the grueling competition.
Congratulations to all the ladies.
Once again, this popular event saw a record number of participants, where big and small ball players got together to compete for the highest honors.
The Mayor's Cup handball tournament took place at the Central Park main handball courts with more than a 160 male and female players from all five boroughs to compete to be the "Best in the city."
Danielle Daskalakis tied Tracy Davis’ all-time record of four consecutive winnings in the open division.
Tyree Bastidas became the youngest player to repeat in two consecutive years at the men’s open division.
The tournament drew more junior players than adults.
The prize money for the men and women’s division (open singles) was the same: $1,000.00
Photo by Jose Davila - Gloves by Owen.
Tyree Bastidas and Timothy Gonzalez have played as at team in other tournaments previously. They even won local tournaments against other teams with more experience. But at the 1-wall national tournament held at Coney Island, they couldn’t find their rhythm.
Since the beginning of their preliminary match, team Tyree/Timbo stumbled against its opponents, but managed to win in a long tiebreaker that could have gone to the other team.
During the match against the more experienced and aggressive team J. Wright/D. Rojas, team Tyree/Timbo struggled to the tiebreaker. They had a hard time getting around these former runner-ups of the 1-wall nationals. But again, they managed to advance to the semis.
During the semifinals team Tyree/Timbo took the lead by winning the first game against team Castro/Polanco, only to lose control of the second game and consequently the tiebreaker.
During the championship match of team Castro/Polanco and team Rebaza/Vasquez we caught up with Castro right after the first game ended, and asked him: Are you having a hard time against the other team? “Not really, I’m confident we’ll win the division. We did have a hard time yesterday against Tyree and Timbo. That match was the toughest we had so far” replied Castro.
“Tyree’s control of the left side has always been a big problem for me. Luckily, we scored 11 first.”
Jose Borbon hits the ball from the right side during HOF tournament against Robert Lee.
He wears a medium shade of brown skin, dark eyes and long arms. He’s tall and lanky, standing well over six feet-something as a 17-year-old teenager. He used to be known as “Bushy Brows,” laughing his way across the courts and making polite gestures and greetings to strangers and friends alike. At first glance, he seems like the friendly neighborhood teen, playing handball just to pass time and entertain himself. But, like many of his fellow handball players, he plays to win.
Jose “Game boy” Borbon was not always this way. In fact, he hated handball at first. He had absolutely no confidence or faith in himself that he would ever be able to achieve anything at all. “Handball was a very hard sport to play,” he said. “I didn’t think I had what it took to play it.”
Borbon began handball as a 14-year-old bystander, always standing on the sideline watching in awe of legends in the making, such as Tyree Bastidas. “He always gives himself challenges at times to win,” Borbon said.
Bastidas has always been a type of role model to young kids for his aggressive playing style and perpetual determination to win. “He’s so driven and so focused,” said V.B. Paravati, the director and executive producer of “Handballers.” “A typical person isn’t capable of what Tyree is capable of”
Borbon strives to achieve the same level of skill and aptitude as Bastidas. During Borbon’s sophomore year at Hillcrest High School, he joined the boy’s varsity handball team in hopes of meeting new competition and talent. He began as a substitute, always being discouraged from playing by the starters.
“The people on my team would try to put me down by telling me that I won’t ever be a good handball player,” Borbon said.
However, their words of condemnation only fueled Borbon’s drive to improve. “Ever since they told me that, I worked hard to show them that I would get better,” he said.
“My work eventually paid off in my junior year when I was put as 2nd singles.”
Handball has given Borbon the opportunity to learn the true value of practice. In 2011, Borbon was awarded with the Most Valuable Player award of the year.
“If you put time into it you could see all the possibilities the game really has to offer,” he said.