2021 Minnesota Summer One Wall Bash
August 27th – 29th
Clayland Park One Wall courts, Saint Paul, MN
Though the rains blew in after a two month drought in the Twin Cities, the 2021 Minnesota Summer One Wall Bash was held August 27th – 29th at the Clayland Park One Wall courts in Saint Paul, MN. Only one rain delay occurred late Saturday afternoon (parried by a flurry of blow torches supplied by tournament players to keep the courts dry between drizzles before the storm hit). For the finals, Sunday was a beautiful day for handball.
Unlike many handball events with set match times and players coming and going throughout, this event unique in its own right, in that players are expected to arrive first thing in the morning regardless of status / match times; tournament directors Quinn Foley and David Schiller advertise the venue as a place for handball gathering and camaraderie, and the spectacle was as such throughout the weekend. Player names are called promptly for “next up!” and the matches are able to move as quickly as possible accordingly. The sizzle of the grill (catering by EZ Eats, a local family member of one of the players), the picnic blankets full of families, and a line of lawn chairs circling the two back-to-back one wall courts created an atmosphere many passerby stopped to enjoy.
Competition began first thing Saturday morning after rainouts on Friday evening; match structures of one game to 25 points allowed for the tournament to run smoothly and successfully, and both Open and B doubles, and singles brackets contained many close contests. In the open brackets, Velez ousted Quinn Foley in one semifinal while Schiller defeated Abdul Ghandi in the other semifinal. The doubles semifinal on Saturday evening was a close matchup between Schiller and partner Erling Holdahl, overcoming an early deficit to claim victory over Foley and partner Alejandro Cigarrero. In the B divisions, Fargo native Jay Spooner took down his opponents in one semi while Leslie Spencer (NY) defeated Yovanny Jimenez in the other semi.
Finals Sunday brought another display of highlight reel shots from Velez in both the singles and doubles final, as he partnered with hometown ally Spencer in a finals victory over Schiller and Holdahl. Consolation brackets were available via sign up as court times were available, and all brackets were completed by early Sunday evening.
The tournament was accentuated by professional photography and drone footage, and formal media is being developed / released for distribution in the weeks to come. Saturday night’s gathering at BlackStack Brewing Co (just blocks away from the courts, one of the tournament sponsors) showed great turnout and players were thankful to have the taproom open / available this year. Tournament directors Schiller and Foley would like to thank all official tournament sponsors, as well as those who donated privately to help make the event a success. Any / all one-wall big ball enthusiasts are encouraged to mark the 2022 calendar for late August, as dates will be released well in advance of next year’s tournament. As per last year’s closing, the heartbeat of handball is alive and well in the twin cities, and the conversation has begun with local city representatives to begin the push for building more courts. Until next year…