Nick Lucena winked, and only one person in the stadium could have possibly seen it: Head ref John Rodriguez.

Lucena had always been known for his fiery demeanor, and though Rodriguez cannot recall the exact year of the wink, he estimates it came at a tournament in Florida, when Lucena and Phil Dalhausser were playing Matt Olson and Kevin Wong, which would date it to the mid-2000s, which also dates it to when Lucena’s temper was nearing its zenith.

Or was that temper just theatrics? Something for the crowd to enjoy, an added element to an excellent match between one storied team and the next great one?

Perhaps, as it goes sometimes, it’s a bit of both.

“Phil (Dalhausser) chucked a set,” recalled Rodriguez, one of the most well-known and well-respected refs on the AVP Tour and p1440. “Which is rare but it happened, and I tweeted (whistled) it. Nick (Lucena) comes –– they were getting killed in the second set against (Kevin Wong and Matty Olson) –- flying over to my stand.”

And here is where the disconnect between crowd and players and refs begins, in that intimate space between ref stand and player, where only two individuals know what’s being said in the conversation.

Read the rest of the story, and listen to the podcast with p1440’s head referee, John Rodriguez, at!

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