Photo above by Keith Thode - Anna getting ready to blast the ball.
One of the best handball players of all-time was inducted into the Hall of Fame during the four-wall nationals held in Fridley, Minnesota on June, 2016.
Mrs. Anna Christoff captured eleven national 4-wall singles titles during a handball journey that catapulted her to the top spot with Mr. Naty Alvarado (men's all-time record-11 singles titles). Not bad for a woman who now towers over most men and women in the open division.
A. Christoff also captured six open singles titles in the USHA 3-wall nationals, setting up a new all-time record with the most national singles tiles in women's open era.
USHA President Lea Ann Martin introduced the new inductee to the crowd that had gathered at the Annual Award Dinner celebration and although Anna Christoff could not attend, her sister, Lee Engele, accepted the Award on her behalf by delivering an emotional acceptance and thank you speech.
Congratulations to Mrs. Anna Christoff.
Myth – Paul Haber (NY) is the oldest players to win the USHA 3-wall national singles title in 1973 at the age of 36.
Fact – Vic Hershkowitz (NY) is the oldest player to win the USHA 3-wall national singles title in 1958 at the age of 39. He was a few weeks shy of his 40th birthday (October 4.)
Photo above - Tyree Bastidas and Steven Woo.
You probably read his name in some of the previous posts when he used to win at the junior level, but now he plays in the men's open even though he still qualifies to play in the junior divisions.
Steven Woo went to Brooklyn Technical high school and since his graduation he's defeated several open players in the 1-wall handball version. He's one of the few junior players to have branched out to 3-and 4-wall where he's also found success.
S. Woo may not have the advantage of having long arms to reach out for the ball, but has a heart big enough to compensate for his small body frame. Underestimating Mr. Woo because of his size would be the worst mistake for any of his opponents “I've played Steven a couple times and believe me, he could take you down when you least expected” Tyree said.
“He reminds me of Vince Munoz, who despite of his small body frame he would beat anybody to the tile”
When it comes to versatility, Steven Woo could be the best overall player after Tyree graduated from the junior divisions.
Congratulations to Mr. Steven Woo.
Probably not that many people outside Michigan State heard of Pete Hanover, a 4-wall State champion who may have captured more State open singles titles than any other local player. The first time we saw Mr. Hanover in action was at the Michigan State handball tournament in 2008 when both brothers: Tyree and Jurell Bastidas ventured through a heavy snow storm that blanketed the State with a snow accumulation of up to 13 inches the day before the tournament in the month of February.
Pete had made it to the finals by the end of the day and so as Tyree, but Jurell couldn't make it as he was taken down at the quaterfinals by another experienced player. This situation set up a sensational final by a rising junior player: Tyree Bastidas and defending State champion: Pete Hanover.
Throughout the day we were repeatedly asked by some handball fans: What brought team Bastidas to the Michigan State Handball Tournament?
Our answer was always the same: We were vacationing in Illinois during that week (School Energy conservation week for Tyree and a winter recess for Jurell), and on the way back to NY both brothers decided to play in Michigan as planned before they left for Illinois.
The men's open final became a head-scratching situation as we couldn't figure out a clear strategy for Tyree to win since we didn't know too much about his opponent. The only facts we had on him: he was an experienced defending champion and a pure 4-wall player in his late 30's.
Fast-forward to 2016 when we happened to watch Pete Hanover in action again. But this time it was outdoors at the 3-wall nationals in Ohio, a two hour drive from his home town in Michigan. It was an amazing display of athleticism for a man his age. He's also been to the finals in his age-group division in both: singles and doubles competition.
Congratulations to Pete Hanover.