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Top Stories - 2003
• USHA One-Wall Nationals
• King of the Courts
• One-Wall Profiles

Top Stories - 2002
• USHA One-Wall Nationals
• King of the Courts
• Mayor's Cup
• NYC Big Blue Championship

Top Stories - 2001
• USHA One-Wall Nationals
• Mayor's Cup
• King of the Courts
• NYC Big Blue Championship

Top Stories - 2000
• World Championships
• USHA One-Wall Nationals
• Mayor's Cup
• King of the Courts
• Close-up: Priscilla Shumate
• NYC Big Blue Championship
• Full 2000 Coverage

Top Stories - 1999
• USHA One-Wall Nationals
• King of the Courts
• Close Up: Ference Dominguez
• Partners in the Game
• Full 1999 Coverage

Brenda Pares
by Ben Brighton

Brenda making a shot during the 2004 Women's Open Doubles.
Click for bigger picture

Brenda making a shot during the 2004 Women's Open Doubles
There is a new Queen of Handball. Her name is Brenda Pares. Brenda completed a breakout year by winning the 2004 USHA National One-Wall Singles title. Last year Brenda was a rookie with the white label handball. She was able to transfer her considerable big blue skills to the smaller and faster ball. The results were certainly encouraging. Runner-up in the 2003 National Doubles, semi-finalist in the singles and top four placements in the indoor events. Maybe she needed another year before reaching the top echelon of players. But 2005 was too far away for Brenda. She set her own time table for success; not what others predict for her.

The result was Brenda winning one-wall’s equivalent of the grand slam in tennis. She won Queen of the Courts beating the best in big blue. Next was a win at the Mayor’s Cup over Anna Calderon. That win raised eyebrows and expectations for the Nationals. The Nationals is 4 grueling days of singles and doubles matches.

The range of emotions is great. Highs and lows, warming up for one match and cooling down after another. Each night you nurse your injured and tired body for another day’s battle while plotting strategy for your next opponent. A test of skills, endurance, will power, pain tolerance and recuperative powers the Nationals can compare with any other athletic contest for the physical and mental demands it places on its competitors.

Wins over Kim Johnson, Dori ten and Karen McConney propelled her to the finals. It takes a great opponent to make a memorable match. Ali had Frazier, Evert had Navritalova. Pares had Figueroa. Her size and power make Veronica “Power Puff” perhaps the most intimidating player in women's handball.

Veronica jumped to a 19-5 lead. Brenda’s attractive exterior and tennis like outfit does not hint at the ferocious competitor that lies inside. With an array of serves and killshots Pares actually took the lead 20-19 before falling 21-20. That heartbreaking defeat might have demoralized another player but Brenda used her comeback as a positive; she had been knocked down, but had risen off the mat and was ready to fight. Trailing in the second game she came back and forced a tie-breaker.

At 5-2, in the tie-breaker, an ankle injury forced Figueroa to the sideline. She bravely came back but clearly momentum had shifted as Brenda would not be denied.

Spectators cheered loud and long for one of the best women's finals in years.

The next time I play Brenda singles if I lose, I will not take it so hard. I would have lost to the National singles champion.

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