This week we highlight an athlete that has emerged as one of NYC’s Top “B” (amateur) Players of 2016. On his journey he lost 45 pounds and has developed one of the most disciplined regiments which he credits to being a soldier. Even though he is beyond what most would consider his prime, he maintains a competitive edge out of sheer determination and that is why congratulations are in order to our new Player of the Week – Eric “Equa” Crespo!
Q: What’s your wallball (handball) story? Take us through a brief overview.
A: I started playing wallball in 94′ at the age of 16 in flushing Meadows Corona Park. I excelled but didn’t compete. Then in 2000 at the age 20 I enlisted in the US Army and returned in 2004. Life happened and I didn’t see or think of handball until about 5 years ago. As an escape from what I was going through at the time. I returned to wallball but found a new park right across from the old one called GCP (Grand Central Park) in Queens, NY. I also became somewhat of a regular at an indoor sports club called “Guz” during winter. That was the hottest spot – all the pros would go there to ball.
Q: So you’ve got about 20 years in playing wallball. Why after all these years playing are you finally emerging as a competitor? What inspired you to work harder this year?
A: Last winter the NY vs. Florida tournament was announced and I was looking forward to competing and making it far. I trained through the winter at an indoor facility in Long Island. I also went from 240lbs to 195lbs. I felt slimmer, faster, and more consistent. But in doubles, both players have to be consistent to say the least, and it didn’t go well. In the 2nd round I was knocked out the bracket by my good friends Matt Mantro and Kevin Calero. They exploited a weakness and ran with it. I would’ve done the same. At that point, undeterred, I set my sights on the Florida Nationals Wallball Tournament which was the next month in February 2016. I didn’t even have a partner until the day of the tournament and ended up teaming up with Angel Juarbe. We were finalists against #1 ranked athlete Timbo Gonzalez and his partner, NYC pro Carlos Peña. Final score was 25-15.
That taste of making it to the finals just boosted my confidence. I went back home and kept training because I decided this was going to be the season to make noise. And I did. As corny as it may sound, it was the soldier in me.
Q: What advice do you have for players who might be thinking of making a run towards the pros?
Let whoever, think whatever. Just keep getting better!
Equa’s 2016 Wallball Resume
- 1st place Castle Hill Monster B singles (defeated Micheal Kenny ngai)
- 1st place ING shoot to kill B singles invitational (defeated Dan Pitre)
- 1st place Rockaway open singles (defeated han)
- 2nd place Echo B singles
- Placed top 16 King of the Courts
- 1st place 35 + masters (open doubles) with partner Matt Mantro
- 2nd place Florida Nationals (open doubles) with partner Angel Juarbe
- 2016 Buddha Memorial MVPs (open doubles) with partner Matt Mantro