The top storyline at the AVP Seattle Open was not the two teams that emerged with the titles, though Ryan Doherty and John Mayer’s first win as partners (and Doherty’s inaugural first-place finish overall) and April Ross ninth title out of the last 10 AVP tournamentsher first with Jen Fopmawere both very newsworthy. Instead, it was the emergence of two new partnerships, each making the final in their first AVP tournament together (or first tournament reunited, as in the case of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who havent played together in 10 years).
Youngsters Lane Carico and Summer Ross came within two points of defeating April Ross and Fopma in the women’s final in only their second tournament together. Carico, 25, and Summer Ross, 22, paired up after starting the season with other partners, Carico with Kim DiCello and Ross with Fopma, and debuted their partnership at the FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam in Japan where they took ninth. In Seattle, despite not playing in either of the previous AVP tournaments this summer, the duo entered as the No. 3 seed. A three-set loss to Misty May-Treanor and Brittany Hochevar in the second round sent the duo to the contenders bracket where they won three matches to make the crossover. They then met May-Treanor and Hochevar again in the semifinals, this time dominating the match to earn a 21-12, 21-13 victory, and a berth into the final.
Against Fopma and April Ross, Carico and Summer Ross showed a level of tenacity and skill far beyond their years, roaring back in the second set after dropping the first and pushing the match to three sets. In the third, the match was tied at 7-all, and even after April Ross and Fopma went on a 4-0 scoring run, Carico and Summer Ross kept fighting back. In the end, April Ross and Fopma took the victory by only two points, 15-13.
Dalhausser and Lucena announced their partnership at the end of last month, and the AVP Seattle Open was the first time two Floridians played together since the 2005 season. The two men’s previous partners, Sean Rosenthal and Theo Brunner, created a new team of their own, finishing fifth in Seattle.
In the semis, Dalhausser and Lucena eliminated Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, winners of the five previous AVP tournaments, with a decided 21-15, 21-15 victory, but in the final, the 7-foot-1 Doherty and crafty lefty John Mayer gained the upper hand, coming back from a first-set loss to win the second and third sets and the title. The win was Mayer’s third AVP title, and Doherty’s first.
The AVP’s next event, the Manhattan Beach Open, kicks off competition with a qualifier on Thursday, August 13.