If soccer is known to its fans as “The Beautiful Game,” handball is known to its players as “The Perfect Game,” says Chattanooga resident and former pro handball player Rob Pearse. “We call it that because playing it well demands mastery of the full range of athletic skills. You use both hands, both sides of your body. It requires speed, flexibility, strength and endurance.”
Chattanooga sports fans will get a chance to see for themselves April 24-27, when the 2014 United States Handball Association Doubles Championship is held at the downtown Sportsbarn, the fourth time the a National Handball Championship has been held in the city.
Sportsbarn has been a tremendous supporter of handball in Chattanooga since the original facility was built. Founder Alex Guerry was a former handball player who converted to racquetball in his later years. Chattanooga has 35-40 active handball players, with most playing at the Sportsbarn downtown and a few playing occasionally at Sportsbarn East.
“We have been host to many tournaments through the years and consider it an honor to host this year’s USHA,” says Sportsbarn Managing Partner David Brock.
“Sportsbarn has consciously made sure we have enough courts for the current players to keep the Perfect Game alive. The tourney was actually created in Chattanooga and played at the old downtown YMCA in the early 1970s,” Mr. Pearse said. “I brought the tourney back to Chattanooga in 2002, 2006, 2009, and now 2014.”
Other local players have top credentials in the sport, he says. “For example, Scott Kelley is a native Chattanoogan who has lived here his entire life and is the best player in Chattanooga history.” Now 55, Mr. Kelley played on the pro tour for nearly 10 years with a highest ranking of #7, and has multiple national championships.
2014 United States Handball Association Doubles Championship
When: Thursday, April 24, noon – 10 p.m.; Friday, April 25, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, April 27 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Where: Sportsbarn, 301 Market St., Chattanooga
For More Information: (423) 266-1125, www.sportsbarn.net
Handball is the oldest game played with a ball and dates back to pre-Mayan times. Handball was brought to NYC by Irish immigrants in the 1800s, and the game spread throughout North America from there. The World Handball Council is finding more and more versions of handball played throughout South America and Europe. There are also players in Japan and Australia, and the 1-Wall game has been growing in Europe. 1-Wall handball was an exhibition sport at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Columbia and is being proposed as an official sport of future World Games.
About Rob Pearse: Born in Ontario, Canada, Mr. Pearse began playing handball in middle school, eventually receiving a handball scholarship to Memphis State, and played for the prestigious National Championship teams from 1987-1991. He played on the pro tour for three years, attaining a ranking of #13, and has numerous Canadian, US, and World Championships in open and age group categories.