Beating veterans kid stuff for Chapman Californian, 17, eyes national title

June 18, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

David Chapman does not feel intimidated as a 17-year-old professional at the United States Handball Association's national tournament. In fact, he enjoys putting the pressure on his older competitors.

"I've been playing this game against older people all my life," said Chapman, a resident of Long Beach, Calif. "I'm not intimidated, but they are. They don't want to lose to a little kid."

Chapman, seeded third, will face No. 5 Randy Morones, 22, of Pico Rivera, Calif., in the championship match of the 43rd annual USHA Four-wall National Tournament at Merritt Athletic Club-Security tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Chapman would be the youngest U.S. national handball champion. Octavio Silveyra became the youngest when he won last year's championship at age 21.

Chapman upended second-seeded John Bike, 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., 21-17, 21-17, in yesterday's semifinals. Bike was ranked as the top handball player for most of the year and is the only player to rely on tournament winnings alone.

Morones followed Chapman's performance with an upset of his own. He halted Silveyra, of Commerce, Calif., 21-14, 7-21, 11-4, in the other semifinal.

Even with this championship opportunity, Chapman has not had an easy tournament.

After a dominating early-tournament win over unseeded Ed August, Chapman needed a tie-breaking game in the third round to down No. 14 Dave Dohmen of Munster, Ind. In his quarterfinal match on Thursday, Chapman had to stage two comebacks to defeat sixth-seeded Vince Munoz, 23, of Commerce, Calif., 21-12, 21-8.

In the first game against Munoz, Chapman fell behind 6-0. In the second game, Chapman came back from a 7-2 deficit to score 19 of the final 20 points.

Chapman, who won in his first professional tournament in Concord, Calif., in 1991, uses his agility and quickness on the court to offset the more powerful players, such as Bike.

He traps his opponents in the backcourt with his soft, but deep, serves.

Said Chapman: "I like to keep [the hard hitters] deep on the court. Keeping them defensive helps me to get my offensive setups. But a more powerful serve is what I have to work on next."

Playing since he was 3, Chapman credits his early interest to his father, an avid amateur handball player.

"He had me out on the court when I was still in diapers," said Chapman. "He began with me just throwing the ball against the wall."

When Chapman returns home this week, he has a full schedule of exams to make up at Wilson High School before his graduation Wednesday. Chapman plans to attend Southwest Missouri State in the fall, and probably major in engineering.

The Bears have a handball team, but his professional status presents a major problem.

"That's still up in the air," Chapman said. "Some people say I could play in college and others say no. It doesn't really matter to me. There really isn't much competition for me at that level."

In the first Platinum singles tournament for 80-year-olds and older, top-seeded Larry Kotal beat No. 2 seed Bob Bosworth of Alameda, Calif., 21-8, 21-14. Kotal, 81, of New Port Ritchie, Fla., has played handball for 70 years.

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