MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Two remarkable, close and exciting finals:
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena were down a set and trailed 20-18 in the second before coming back to beat Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb in the AVP Manhattan Beach Open men’s final Sunday 12-21, 22-20, 15-13 in a match that last an hour, 15 minutes.
“I guess we don’t give up, we find a way,” Lucena said. “We’ve got a little grit. Not a bad thing.”
Not at all as they registered their third AVP win of the season after taking gold at Austin and New York. They also won Manhattan Beach in 2017.
Then in the women’s final, April Ross and Alix Klineman had to stave off match point in the freeze, missed one incredibly long opportunity to close out, and then eventually beat Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar 25-27, 21-17, 17-15. It took an hour, 8 minutes.
“At the end, my legs were shaking a little bit, ‘Can we just get it this time, please.’ I think it’s a pretty cool experience in the sand to go back and forth like that, and Britt and Kelly played amazing,” Ross said. “They pushed us to the absolute limit.”
It was Ross’ third MBO title and the first for Klineman.
“I was just emotional because we had no business winning that match,” Dalhausser admitted. “There were so many points that just went our way. In two points in the second, they missed the touch, and then I got two aces after that. That’s a huge point spread, and then Nick got blocked, it planted off his shoulder, and they missed that. Those are two huge points in the second that kept us in it.”
Dalhausser won his first MBO in 2006 with Todd Rogers after losing in the final the year before with Lucena. He said this was his favorite of his seven MBO titles.
“Right now, this one for sure,” Dalhausser said. “Like I said, we had no business winning this one. And the first one, for sure.”
In the semifinals, Dalhausser, who won Manhattan Beach for the seventh time, and Lucena, who took the title for the third time, won by forfeit when Theo Brunner and John Hyden had to forfeit because of an injury.
“You could look at it both ways, if we lost, we say, ‘Oh, it took us out of our rhythm, if we won, ‘We need the rest.’ It’s happened once before to me, and we got smashed in the finals,” Dalhausser said.
Crabb, who was by far the best performer of the tournament, especially in the final, and Gibb got past Jeremy Casebeer and Reid Priddy 21-16, 21-16.
The women’s semis saw Claes and Hochevar beat Emily Day and Betsi Flint 21-19, 21-19, while Ross and Klineman beat Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman 21-18, 21-16. This was the second AVP win of the season for Ross and Klineman, who opened the tour by taking the gold in Austin.
Hochevar had won the last two MBO titles while playing with Day.
Klineman, who grew up nearby, was ecstatic.
“It means everything. I tried not to look too far ahead, I wanted to take it just one match at a time and enjoy the tournament, but it’s so cool to have my friends, my family, people that I grew up with,” Klineman said. “I walk to the tournament, everybody says ‘Hi, Alex’, it just feels really special.
“My whole family, my brother, my sister, my parents, are all here, my whole ‘A’ team, even the Manhattan Beach mayor that presented our trophies (Amy Howorth) said that she works at Robinson elementary school, and lots of old teenage friends.”
Of course, now she gets to add her name on one of plaques that live in the lore of the tournament on the Manhattan Beach Pier.
“It’s the coolest trophy because it’s there forever,” Klineman said. “Even when I’m gone, or when I’m living somewhere else, or whatever, people are still going to walk down and see that, so it’s really cool.”