LAFD Handball Dominates the 4-Wall Nationals

July 31, 2017

LAFD Handball had a historic performance at Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, during the 4-Wall Handball National Championships. Nearly 300 handball players from as far away as Ireland gathered for the five-day tournament from June 28th thru July 2nd to compete in both Singles and Doubles.

The LAFD had a strong contingent of both active duty and retired members who included Jesus Pasos, Gary Maga, Craig Nielsen, Joe Holguin, Mario Rueda, Roy Harvey, Chris Yokoyama, Sergio Guzman, David Diaz, Albert Lozano, Richard Ramirez, Ryan Chance, John Libby Jr., Alex Garcia, and Mike Bowers.

John Libby Jr. started the weekend as the first LAFD member to win a Division, winning the 50 and over singles division, giving him his fourth national title. Libby won his first as a teen, then the 35 and over, and 45 and over Divisions before this latest title.

Jesus Pasos added to his national championship collection, by repeating as the 60 and over champion. He has also won Doubles titles in the past.

Alex Garcia, LAFD’s current singles champion, won his first national championship in the “A” Division, which now qualifies him as a legitimate “Open” player – no longer eligible to play in the “A” Division.

Handball Commissioner Richard Ramirez came within one point of winning the “B” Division, falling in an 11-10 tie-breaker. He served for the match no less than four times, with exciting rallies for every point. Rumor has it that he ran out of gas due to over hydration the night before.

Joe Holguin took second place in the 50 and over “B” Division. This performance should serve as inspiration to everyone, due to the challenges that Joe has overcome to keep playing the game – “no excuses!”

LAFD finished the weekend strong by winning the “A” and “B” Doubles Divisions. Chris Yokoyama and Ryan Chance teamed up to dominate the “A” Division. They also competed in the “Open” Division in order to test themselves against the Pros. Not a bad outing, getting 13 points against the overall 2nd place team, before Armando Ortiz and Victor Perez showed them what the next level is all about. Chance and Yokoyama have also moved up to the “Open” level. David Diaz and Sergio Guzman were the class of the field in the “B” Division, dominating in every match, leaving all of their opponents in single digits.

LAFD also cooked for the tournament on Friday, with Craig Nielsen taking lead as grill-master serving tri-tip, chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans, which was clearly the best meal of the week. LAFD Handball t-shirts were being worn by visiting players from all over, which is a testament to the quality of our program.

Thanks to the strong performances of Garcia, Libby, Yokoyama and Chance, there will be an “Open” Division in future LAFD tournaments. Hopefully this will bring former “World Champion” and multiple “National Champion” Tati Silveyra out of retirement. National Champions don’t get to play in the “A’s” anymore. This is good news for the regular players. Congratulations to all of the Champions!

Noteworthy future tournaments are the annual Venice Beach 3-Wall 9/11 Memorial Handball Tournament on September 9th, and the Simple Green U.S. Open of Handball at Los Cab in Fountain Valley from October 19-22, 2017.

Also of note, former Commissioner Roy Harvey, and “A” player Sergio Guzman are taking on the challenge of Player Development coordinators. There will be a “Novice” centered event and social in the near future. “Suit up!”

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