Foresters Sweep All Three National Championships

Photo by Kyra Vidas
Photo by Kyra Vidas

The Lake Forest College handball teams claimed the men's, women's, and combined team titles at the United States Handball Association National Collegiate Championships in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend. Highlighting the individual performances was the Open Singles title claimed by senior Dan Cordova.

Cordova, the Open Singles runner-up to Martin Mulkerrins of University College Dublin in each of his first three years, defeated Mulkerrins 21-15, 12-21, 11-3 in Sunday's final to claim the championship. He also came out on top of a tiebreaker in his semifinal match, a 15-21, 21-8, 11-2 victory. Cordova is the seventh Forester in team history to capture an Open Singles national title.

In addition to his singles championship, Cordova teamed with fellow senior C.J. Laffey on a second-place finish in Open Doubles, earning the duo National Collegiate All-American honors. It was Laffey's fourth consecutive appearance in the Open Doubles championship match.

Laffey and Forester sophomore Anthony Collado also had success in Open Singles, reaching the quarterfinal round.

While Cordova, Laffey, and Collado were seeded among the top 16 players in the tournament, junior Matthew Chu and freshman Juan Canales were not. However, both players played their way into the Open bracket by posting a pair of preliminary round victories. They were knocked out in the division's round of 16, but Canales won his quarterfinal contest in the Open 9-16 bracket before falling in the semifinals.

Two more Lake Forest doubles teams advanced in the Men's Open Doubles division, both needing a tiebreaker to do so. Collado and Canales won a 9-21, 21-18, 11-2 decision in the quarterfinals before falling to Cordova and Laffey in the semifinal round. Chu and senior Eric Matiasek came out on top of a 19-21, 21-10, 11-6 decision to reach the quarterfinals, where they were defeated by the eventual champions.

Junior Christi Valicenti matched Canales' singles performance on the women's side, advancing to the Open 9-16 semifinals. Senior Amber Craghead and junior Lisa Ledvora were also in the same bracket but were eliminated in the quarterfinal round.

The quarterfinal round was also where the Foresters' top two women's doubles teams were knocked out. Valicenti and Craghead were defeated 21-8 in both games while Ledvora and senior Amanda Flaxman lost 21-2, 21-4.

While every Forester won at least one singles match at the tournament, only Cordova, freshman Max Roberts, and sophomore Sophia Goss prevailed in their final contests. Roberts split his preliminary matches to be placed in the Men's Division 1-C division. He then rattled off four straight victories, including a pair of tiebreaker triumphs, before taking the final 21-4, 21-19. Goss posted a team-high six victories, including a 21-16, 21-17 win in the Women's Division 2-A final.

In other men's Division 1 Singles action, freshman Ricardo Palma reached the B quarterfinals, junior John Snider advanced to the C quarterfinals, and senior Sam Herrman and freshman Xavier Higa were knocked out in the C round of 16.

Freshman Carter Kounovsky won three straight matches before falling in the Division 2-Intermediate quarterfinals while classmate Jon Vargas rattled off four consecutive wins to advance to the Division 3-A semifinal round.

Flaxman and junior Marina Alessi split their preliminary matches before being knocked out in the round of 16 in the Division 1-A bracket. Senior Caitlin Shetterley and freshman Kyra Vidas played their way into the Division 1-B division, where they were knocked out in the quarterfinals, and round of 16, respectively. Junior Jessica Chang won her first three matches of the weekend to climb into the Division 1-C bracket, but was also defeated in the round of 16.

Freshman Bethany Fyffe had a pair of tiebreaker victories in the tournament and reached the Division 2-B quarterfinals.

The Foresters have now claimed seven straight men's and combined titles. The women's championship was the program's first since Lake Forest's last sweep in 2012. Head Coach Mike Dau has now led the Foresters to 20 men's, 11 women's and 18 combined national titles.