Yes, you read that right. This local tournament is the biggest junior 1-wall small ball event in the U.S.. It even rivals and surpasses the junior nationals (3- and 4-wall) championships.
How did this local event mushroom into the biggest handball junior event?
Tournament Director, Paul Williams, knows how to capitalize on Tyree Bastidas to keep the youngsters interested in the game.
First of all, he keeps the entry fee low to make it easy for most of the kids to enter the tournament (178 players).
Second of all, he gives out humongous trophies (as tall as 3 feet) to the winners and runner-ups and other trophies to the semifinalists.
Third, he makes sure every kid is happy by giving everyone meal tickets, either for the morning or afternoon. or both.
And last, every since Tyree Bastidas played in his last H.S. Spring Meet, P. Williams has made sure to bring back Bastidas to the tournament to ref the games or to interact with the younger generation.
Mr. Williams is aware that during the Bastidas’ era, the tournament saw a record number of participation and wants to keep that momentum going. Bastidas most have refereed at least a dozen games.
“Every kid wanted me to ref his game, but I could only ref so many games” Bastidas said.
The tournament drew a lot big ball players and a big crowd to the New Jersey handball 3-courts.
“We haven’t seen a big crowd like this one in a long time” Tyree Bastidas said.
“It was such a cold day that most of the players had to wear gloves and sweat pants”
Players from the tri-state area, including Massachusetts, came to participate in the first ever WPH qualifier.
Tyree Bastidas and his partner Robert Lee was the youngest team in the men’s open division while team Schneider and O’Donnell was the most experienced team.
Both teams got to the championship game by going thru a strong field of players on their side of the draws.
“I knew Mike and Billy would get to the finals and I knew that every point we would score it would be a point that it would need to be earned” said Tyree.
M. Schneider and B. O’Donnell did look like the most solid team and with all that vast experience accumulated after playing together for so many years, they captured the big ball doubles open event.
Congratulations to Mike and Billy.
Teddy Mleczkowski is the most decorated handball player since Tyree graduated from high school.
He has practically won almost every junior division he has entered in the last five years.
He has also won the PSAL invitational, the PSAL team division, the PSAL individuals, and most importantly, the USHA national 1-wall small ball divisions.
It was here at the USHA 1-wall junior nationals that we saw him for the first time when he won the 13-and under division. He has come a long way ever since then.
We hope Teddy continues playing and winning. He has all the skills of a champion.
As in the past, Teddy walked away with a title. Congratulations to the new champion.
One of the largest indoors 1-wall big and small ball events took place at the Elks Lodge in Queens on April 21.
Games started early in the morning and finished past 10:00pm due to the big turn out.
The small ball game event had to be capped earlier to give big ball players another opportunity to register in the last minute so that both events can carry more or less the same amount of teams. In the end, there were 20 small ball teams and 16 big ball teams rolling all day on Sunday.
The tournament also saw the return of former 1-wall champion Satish Jagnandan, who was at the courts early in the morning getting ready to play. He played with Emmanuel Fuentes who hasn’t been playing handball lately.
There were at least ten big and small ball national and/or world handball champions participating in this event.
The friendly competition sometimes turned fierce during the day as every team wanted to claim the money reserved for all players in the finals and for the best team in the semis.
Alithia Mendez was on hand to welcome everyone at the door and help with the tourney all day long.
Jessica Sim was ranked No 1 due to her incredible wins during the past year. And even though, she is the second singles for Bayside high school, she has remained the top ranked player in the 17-and-under singles division.
This year Jessica got to the finals once again after beating her opponents on April 13. But in the end, she had to face her teammate Jenny Qu.
J. Sim was leading the score during the final game, but for some strange reasons, she lost the winning momentum and fell to teammate Jenny. Qu.
“J. Sim has to great hands and she never gives up. She is really good for a 17-year-old” said Tyree
“I hope she continues playing with Jenny. They both make a good doubles team”