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One-Wall Nationals Coverage
The USHA Nationals 2000 were a treat for all handball entusiasts Sala and Sostre showcased their tremendous abilities in the finals

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Singles Finalists
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Men's Finalists Robert Sostre and Cesar Sala
National One-Wall Championships, Brooklyn, NY
Aug 3-6, 2000

Robert Sostre is now 29 years old, but to many it seems like he has been around forever. At 16 he had already established himself as a paddleball champion. Within another couple of years, he gained the reputation as a top one-wall players both in small ball and Big Blue. As one of the most highly respected players in the world of handball, and a former Nationals Champion, the man is no stranger to competition.

With that in mind, Robert's comments speak to the intensity of this year's finals match. He said "I think this was the best match I ever played. Even if I lost I would have been happy just to be in it." Robert then recounted "Well not really, but you know what I mean."

We do. Fans watching knew they were seeing something special. Cesar Sala, winner of the Mayor's Cup, the tournament often considered a prelude to the Nationals had looked sharp througout the event. Robert was playing impeccably, having just defeated the legendary Joe Durso (the Nolan Ryan of handball). The finals started off well and just continued to get better.

Cesar had a tough first game and made several unforced errors. he wasn't playing badly, just not good enough to win the championship against a foe as on and as purposeful as Robert. Still Cesar showed he was to be reckoned with, scoring 5 points at the end of the first game to take it to 16.

The second game was just the opposite. Cesar opened up with a lead, remaining 4-6 points ahead until the very end when Robert came roaring back to tie at 19. It took everything Cesar had to pull out the win.

And that set up the tie breaker. Neither player's serve was overpowering, and neither player made many errors. Instead each would look for the slight advantage in position to take control of the volley and send the opponent scampering across the court or diving to make a play. Amazingly, many of those dives were successful and long volleys which had been seen throughout the match became a regular point of nearly every tie-breaker point. Serve swapped 4 times at 10-8 until Robert finally pulled out the win.

Robert's sister Lily, perhaps his biggest fan could barely contain herself at the victory. She explained, "last year Cesar and Robert played in the Nationals and Cesar won in the tie-breaker. This year they played in the Mayor's Cup and Cesar won in the tie-breaker. Each time Robert won the first game, Cesar the second, just like today. In the middle of the tie breaker I got really worried, but now I'm so happy. This time Robert won the match."

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