If handball were a professional sport then the public would definitely hear about the young talent that lies waiting in the wings for their chance to emerge. If handball is going to become a significant sport in the future it will most likely depend upon the support of the generations of players to come. Ference Dominguez , a 16 year old player from Elmhurst Queens is without a doubt one of handballs most promising rising talents and the perfect person to present in our new section "Rising Stars."
Cesar Sala, my partner in crime and I interviewed Ference for this article and I must say that it was great talking with him and getting a feel for his experiences as a competitive handball player.
Ference began playing at 12 years old when a friend introduced him to the sport. He soon met Mike Watson, who helped him cultivate his competitive drive, and became his coach and sponsor. Ference and his partner Juan Gomez entered their first real tournament and faced Cesar Sala and his partner Eric Cruz in a doubles match at the 1997 Junior Nationals in Van Cortlandt Park. Ference and Juan got whooped, but this was to be expected. They were playing against much older and experienced competitors and in fact Cesar and Eric went on to win the Junior Championships that year.
But Ference hasn't looked back since, and has accomplished what no other player has since Eric Klarman in 1983, winning three major championships in one year while still a junior player. In 1999, Ference won the 16 and under One-Wall Nationals, the 19 and under One-Wall nationals in Doubles, and the 16 and under Three-Wall Nationals. "This has been my best year yet," Ference told us. "My goal is to be the best in all walls in both the Nationals and the Worlds." That's no small task because competition in all walls and all divisions of handball are tough and only promise to get tougher.
In the world of One-wall/Big Blue competitions Ference admires the stylings of Ray Lopez for his, "beautiful serve and flat kills," and Emmitt Fitzpatrick for his, "aggressiveness, great shot selections and intimidating court presence." In the Small ball game, he most admires Robert Sostre. It's important to note that Ference plans on playing in handball competitions as long as he can which means well past junior competitions and playing in pro and open divisions.
Ference's achievements have not gone unnoticed. He was honored as an Outstanding Junior Athlete this past November at an annual awards dinner given by Paul Williams founder and president of the Inner City Handball Association (ICHA).
Ference hopes to slam the One Wall Nationals in the summer, but he has even greater aspirations. This year, the Handball World Championships will be held in Chicago. Ference plans to be there in force and hopes to be the first person to win the One Wall and Four Wall Junior Worlds in the same year
Ference's family hails from Ecuador but now resides in Elmhurst with his Mom, Dad and younger brother. His home court is right there, at the 78th Street Park, the place where Mike Watson holds his Big blue handball tournaments during the summer season. When the weather is good and he's not in school, chances are you'll find Ference down there, or at one of the neighboring courts, so if you're interested in seeing one of the top young players in handball, stop by.
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