USA Nationals 2K6 (A)

Thursday, April 27 2006

[color=#0000ff]Part I:[/color]

A great weekend for handball ahead.

It is hard to stay objective when opining on a sport in which you are more than a mere observer. Be that as it may, I will try – over the next few paragraphs – to convey what these Nationals were like.

I was thrilled when I found out that Houston was going to organize the Nationals for the 3rd year in a row. I admit, I am very subjective on this issue. Houston has been my home for the past 21 years. If it'd be up to me, Houston and the GRB will be hosting the Nationals for many years to come.

Most of our US readers know the setup. The GRB is a convention center. A huge one. I'm not sure how big the Titanic was but the GRB is bigger. And wider. And taller. It actually looks like a ship from the outside. It's TEXAS SIZED. Three full size handball courts, with room to spare, were setup again. The only thing different this year, was the court number assignments. Court 2 was the easiest to remember.

The tournament featured a relatively large number of teams considering the short notice. 28 team. 12 Elite, 8 D1 and 8 Women.
Texas registered 5 teams. 3 Men (Stars One and Too and Firehawks) and 2 Women (Shooting Stars and 'Hawks), Georgia did even better. 7 teams. 5 Men (Condors I and II, ATH, GS and Rock) and 2 Women (Rock and Condors). Two states one third of the competition. Would the medals follow the same pattern?

The Elite Champs en-titre were there as well: NYAC (Garden City). West Point men and women. Silva's North Carolina, Zaharia's Miami Sharks, Amir's Salt Lake Warriors and Jim's Air Knights. Chris Musso's "Globetrotter" Smurfs were the odds on favorite to win the Women Open.

The tournament was stacked with great talent. The batlle lines were drawn as there were plenty of "scores" to settle:
– Would ATH prove its 'on-court' prowess against the Condors?
– Could anyone dethrone NYAC?
– How would Chicago, Salt Lake and Firehawks fare in the Elite Division?

Subplots galore.