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One-Wall Champs or Masters of the Universe?
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One-Wall Champs or Masters of the Universe?
HES Champion or Champion of the Universe?
by Cesar Sala - Nov 5, 2000

Streetplay asked Cesar Sala, One-Wall World Champ to write up his experience at the recent HES event. Cesar decided to describe the action as if he is a spectator (even quoting himself). And as for the title "Champion of the Universe" - well perhaps he got a bit carried away.

Spectators were supercharged with anticipation of the clash of the champions at a local tourney in Brooklyn. The tournament was missing some key players like Joe Kaplan, Eddie Maisonet, and Kendall Lewis who was busy winning a four wall pro-qualifier that weekend. However, some new faces kept the spectators on the edge of their seats. In the first round the crowd had the pleasure of watching two young and hungry competitors in Yuber "Pee Wee" Castro, a big ball pro, and junior talent Alvaro Rebaza. This match was hard fought with great shots and great gets by both players but Castro's pro experience helped him pull it out 15-8,15-11.

Another first round match brought Michael Prowbridge, close friend of the infamous Joe Durso, to face a tournament savvy David Sheldon. What made this game interesting was the fact that Prowbridge and others questioned how Sheldon could come within a point of beating Kaplan, defending national champ, without having any flashy or overpowering shots to beat him with! Well, Prowbridge found out the hard way and took a beating 15-5,15-3 in a "not so flashy and overpowering" way.

In the bottom bracket, Shawn Conrad displayed some poise when faced with an 11-14 deficit in his first game of his match against the two handed attack of young Christobal Ramos, who was a finalist in the worlds B event. Conrad pulled out the goods at that point and won 15-14 and then raced through Ramos 15-1 in the second. In the last of the first round matches, Gabriel Vasquez ,open doubles pro was pushed to a tie breaker by the last young inner city player/prodigy left in the tournament, Lee. But once again experience came through in the end as Vasquez dominated the tie breaker in his (12-15),15-13,11-0 victory.

The quarters featured some real fireworks when Cesar Sala faced Conrad. The last time these two met the match ended in an 11-10 victory for Sala. This match was almost identical when Sala took control of the first game by pulling it out 15-11 but then was trounced 15-3 in the second. The tie breaker was highly competitive and hard fought as they exchanged leads several times. The crowd watched very intensely as they fought for position, retrieves and winners. Many anticipated an upset and others had confidence in the world champ but no one knew what would happen with Conrad serving at 9-8. Sala fought his way to a win with some great retrieves and two consecutive roll outs at the end to finish the battle11-9.

Tony Roberts showed that he is back on track, since his knee surgery, when he earned a tough win over Sheldon 15-9,15-14. Vazquez entered his first semifinal in the open singles with a default over Dave Rojas. Meanwhile the national champ Robert Sostre and "Pee Wee" did battle but Sostre's small ball experience showed when he took out the big ball player 15-11, 15-7. The crowd was happy to see "Pee Wee" do so well in his first hardball singles tournament and we expect to see good things from him in the future.

In the first of the two semifinal matches Sala pounced on Vasquez 15-0 in the first and continued to keep the pressure on as he won 15-6 in the second. When asked why he was so intense in this match Sala replied," Gabe is very tough and I've been playing him for years so I knew I had to try to take charge early to beat him."

The second match of the semis pitted a classic match between a great shooter and one of the best in the volley and retrieving game. The opening game Sostre trampled over Roberts 15-7. Spectators questioned if Roberts would be able to even the count by winning the second game. Roberts did it with a somewhat comfortable 15-11 win. The tie breaker started as a seesaw with both men scoring a point then giving a point until Sostre pulled away at 5 and blitzed his way to an 11-5 win, and the finals were set.

The crowd eagerly awaited this rematch and anticipated another great battle. Someone in the crowd screamed out, "this is for the universe!" as the National champ and the world champ began to warm up. Both men looked extremely focused and ready to rumble. Many believed that Sala would take the match being that Sala has won two out of the last three meetings but others said that Sostre may have figured him out after the nationals. The bottom line is, when these two meet no one really knows what's going to happen. In the first game both players came out shooting and struggled to take full control of the match until 15-13 and that's when Sala made a push and took a 19-13 lead. Sostre then fought his way to make a couple of points before Sala finished the game at 21-15. In the second Sala came out smoking as he took a 9-3 lead. Sostre never really got back into the match after that and Sala became the HES championů or as some may say "CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE!!!"

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