Promotional Photo: by Wegotnextproductions.
One Wall opens at the conclusion of the 2010 National One Wall where Tyree Bastidas, the stand-out junior handball player, has captured his first open singles title at age 19. Joe Durso, the sports most-decorated player, is on the scene to congratulate Tyree. At 57, Durso, a nine-time National Champion and arguably the greatest player of all time, is well past his prime but not ready to give up the sport that has shaped his identity and provided him with an audience for a level of obscene banter that borders on performance art. The former District Attorney turned high-school teacher serves as the film’s narrator, describing in eloquent Brooklynese the beauty of the sport and the artistry and athleticism of its top players – and his frustration that handball has not become mainstream. Had Durso channeled his energies into tennis, the world would probably know his name. But his sport is handball, the quintessential city game, brought to New York by Irish immigrants at the turn of the century. The courts on West 5th Street, abutting the Coney Island boardwalk, are the game’s (ultra) earthy Wimbledon, and they are as much the subject of the film as the six players we follow as they progress toward and through the 2011 Championship – including policeman Cesar Sala; glazier Joe Kaplan; math teacher Satish Jagnandan; and truck driver PeeWee Castro. Durso drops his doubles partner for Tyree, who then drops Durso. Durso is overmatched in the singles tournament and exits early, and the shame and anger of an aging champion are on poignant display. I towered over the game like the Colossus of Rhodes, he said, “and now I can’t even hit the fucking ball.” The rising young champion Tyree – gifted, powerful, with movie-star good looks -- is favored to win again, but after a riveting match in brutal heat, an unexpected new champ emerges.
Read and watch online………………..
Bottom Photo - by Keith Thode
The tournament took off with plenty of 1-wall games staged by many youngsters from different countries who played some amazing games. As in the past Tyree Bastidas made himself available to play pick-up games with as many youngsters as possible.
It's always been said that young New Yorkers are by far the best 1-wall players, but this year we were surprised to watch and appreciate other youngsters' fine and superior handball skills. It was a sign that soon we' ll have a changing of the guard at the junior level.
This year several countries sent their best players to the world handball championships where many walked away with both; singles and doubles medals. Play took place in two facilities to accommodate all juniors competing in multiple events.
Congratulations to all juniors players.
Photos by Keith Thode
Top Photo - Russo (2nd from left) and Haber (3rd from left). Bottom Photo -Steve Sandler
Every sport has ruthless players and the handball sport is no different. Such is the case of Russo and Sandler in the men's open. Sure they were great handball players, but did they have to be ruthless to prove that?
Nope. But this is only our opinion.
Most people we interviewed recalled that Russo and Sandler used to zip young aspiring handball players, amateurs and players who had zero possibilities of advancing to the next round “There was no reason for Russo and Sandler to shot them out that way” said Ray Manning, a handball follower from Avenue P Park.
“This is one of the reasons why we never had many players in the men's open” said another handball fan who preferred to stay anonymous.
“Ruthless players always made sure up-and-coming players never came back to play in the open”
Are ruthless players born or made?
It depends on who you ask. But most feedback we got on Sandler and Russo point to the latter.
Russo was a very likable young player when he first started competing and it was the main reason for people to nickname him “Little Louie.” But after he had several bad experiences losing to controversial Paul Haber at the open level and with Haber criticizing and ridiculing Russo for his small body frame, Russo turned his anger towards the competition and became a ruthless player later on.
On the other hand, for Sandler it was business as usual to zip players since the beginning of his handball career, regardless of his opponents' handball skills. But after his pride was crushed when several teen players defeated him at the national open championships, he became more of a ruthless and a cold-blooded player with no mercy on the competition.
Some of the feedback we got from our readers on this topic also refers as to “impolite and unprofessional” the behavior of the players mentioned-above.
Here in Tyree's camp we never saw these players in action so we can not comment on their behavior. We can only provide “synonymous” to help our readers better understand and decide by themselves whether this behavior is considered: ruthless, impolite or unprofessional under our Label – You be the Judge!
Unprofessional – inexpert, amateur, unskilled.
Ruthless – pitiless, remorseless, merciless.
Impolite – ill-mannered, bratty, rude.
One-wall players in the women's division had the opportunity to measure up their handball skills against some of the European, Asian, Central and North American women's teams that competed at the Brooklyn Piers across the river from downtown Manhattan.
It was the first time a 1-wall handball event was played along the Annual International FrontBall event. Small and big ball handball players gathered early in the morning to play and kick off the competition that lasted into the evening. Competition at night was possible because the Piers were equipped with light fixtures on all night long.
Photo by Keith Thode - Smolack and F. Lewis.
Myth - There are several players who have won the 3-wall nationals men's open singles division in Maumee, Ohio and outside Maumee.
Fact: No. There is only one player in the Association to have done this: Fred Lewis from New York. He won the USHA 3-wall nationals in Columbus and Maumee, Ohio in 1974 and 1978 respectively.