Each year the Simple Green U.S. Open of Handball is held at Los Caballeros in Fountain Valley. The tournament was televised on ESPN3 this year, and nearly $200,000 in prize money was on the line in all divisions of 1-Wall, 3-Wall, and 4-Wall handball. Players hailed from four countries and 18 states, with the number one ranked players in each discipline on hand to defend their titles.
LAFD Handball under the leadership of current LAFD “A” Singles Champ and Commissioner Chris Yokoyama competed in divisions ranging from the “B” Division to “70 years and older.” Chris Yokoyama, Alex Garcia, Ryan Chance, David Diaz and Salvador Castillon competed in the “A” Singles division. Yokoyama advanced to the finals, but lost to David Walsh from Ireland in a two-hour match.
Two teams from the LAFD advanced to the semi-finals in “A” Doubles, setting up a potential all LAFD final. Ryan Chance and Joe Steiner played the top Irish team and Chris Yokoyama and Alex Garcia played the number two Irish team. Both lost marathon games that took all players involved to the limits of exhaustion.
Tony Arnado, Richard Ramirez and Salvador Castillon competed in “B” Singles, but were eliminated in early rounds. Sergio Guzman and Tony Arnado advanced to the finals of the “B” Doubles before falling to a team from Escondido, CA in the finals.
Chiefs Mario Rueda and Joe Castro teamed up in the “50 and over” Division and played well before loosing to the eventual winners of their division. Paul Cajiao also played in the “50-Doubles” with a civilian partner. Joe Castro and Joe Holguin played in the “50-Singles” division.
Retired Firefighter/Paramedic Bobby Raya played in the “60-Doubles” with a civilian partner and retired B/C Mike Bowers played in the “70-Doubles” with a civilian partner.
The camaraderie of the handball community is tremendous, and this four-day tournament is always an opportunity to test skills against the best in the world. LAFD shirts are among the most popular in the handball community, and players from all over the world could be seen wearing the LAFD handball logo merchandise.
The 4-Wall Nationals will be held at Los Caballeros in June 2015. Who will be the next National Champion from the LAFD?
By Roy Harvey