The AVP Manhattan Beach Open got under way Thursday with qualifying rounds. Eight women’s and eight men’s pairs made it into the main draw.
The 57th-annual tournament includes seven players that will be competing in the Rio Olympics: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena, Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson and Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of the U.S., and Olaya Pazo, a member of Venezuela’s first ever beach team to qualify for the Olympics.
Other teams of note in Friday’s action include top-seeded Lane Carico/Summer Ross and the brothers pair Taylor Crabb/Trevor Crabb.
The eight women’s teams that advanced Thursday:
Q1 Katie Jameson/Tracie Jones
Q24 Michelle Iafigliola/Jennifer Solm
Q12 Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler
Q4 Lynne Galli/Briana Hinga
Q3 Meg Dawson/Delaney Knudsen
Q27 Jess Clausen/Xi Zhang
Q7 Lara Dykstra Kelly Schumacher
Q15 Nicole Bateham/Kimberly Smith
The first-time qualifiers were Jennifer Solm, Xi Zhang (even though it’s really not that surprising that a 2008 bronze-medalist qualified), Nicole Bateham, and Kimberly Smith.
Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler won the intra-USC battle, defeating teammates Teresa Cannon/Jo Kremer 17-21, 21-18, 15-13.
“Me and my beach partner of three years, Allie Wheeler, had great chemistry today and we were able to pull through some tough matches, especially at the end of the day against our own USC teammates Terese Cannon and Josephine Kremer,” Martin said. “We couldn’t be more excited to play in the AVP Manhattan Beach tomorrow against some pretty amazing teams!”
Lynne Galli/Briana Hinga, who have missed the main draw the last three events, were happy to advance.
“Bri and I have been looking forward to a deep sand event for a long time!,” Galli said. “Being in Manhattan Beach definitely motivated us to elevate our game to another level. Our teamwork and hustle earned us some valuable transition points. We are extremely fired up to compete tomorrow!”
The eight men’s teams that advanced:
Q1 Paul Araiza/Alejandro Parra
Q8 Matt Prosser/Gregg Weaver
Q28 Connor Hughes/Travis Woloson
Q4 Kevin McColloch/Roberto Rodriguez-Bertran
Q3 Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin
Q11 Michael Boag/Jorge Martinez
Q39 Andy Ces/Dylan Maarek
Q2 Ed Ratledge/Adam Roberts
Dylan Maarek, Jorge Martinez, Travis Woloson, and Michael Boag qualified for their first main draw.
“It’s like a dream come true qualifying for the granddaddy of them all, the Manhattan Beach open,” Martinez said. “And who better to do it with than my good friend Michael Boag. Loved the crowd support and looking forward to the main draw on Friday.”
It’s not a surprise that veteran teams like Araiza/Parra, Prosser/Weaver, brothers Maddison/Riley McKibbin, McColloch/Rodriguez-Bertran, and Ratledge/Roberts made it. These teams expected to qualify and have an impact in the main draw.
Matt Prosser’s last tournament, however, was Manhattan 2014.
“Had a great time today battling through my first qualifier in 10 years,” he said, “especially after taking off the last two seasons to pursue a new career and start a family. I actually felt pretty good out there! Hopefully my legs will last another day.”
Jen Kessy’s husband, Andy Ces, qualified with Dylan Maarek. Ces plays internationally for France, and has finished as high as ninth on the world tour.
UC Irvine alumni Connor Hughes (Sarah Hughes’ brother) and Travis Woloson qualified together for the first time. It is Hughes’ second main draw, and Woloson’s first.
Results and brackets from Thursday and Friday’s schedule can be found here:
Also Thursday the tournament unveiled the 2015 winner’s plaques on the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Those honored were former teammates Fopma and April Ross and Dalhassuer and Lucena. Everyone who has ever won the tournament has a plaque in the shape of a volleyball on the world-famous pier.
“It’s really just an honor to play in the Manhattan Beach Open and to win a few here and there is just an amazing thing,” Dalhausser said. “I just want to thank the AVP for continuing to have this tournament. Hopefully we can keep it going in Rio and come home with a gold.”
General admission is free
The tournament schedule can be found here:
Live scoring can be found here:
The livestream can be found here:
The finals will be broadcast on NBC Sunday, July 17, 12:00-1:00pm PT