By Alex Baker
Storms, rains and heavy winds forced the suspension of the men’s final and the cancellation of the women’s final at the AVP St. Petersburg Open.
“Due to severe weather, and to protect the safety of fans, players and staff, the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour’s St. Pete Open at Vinoy Park was cut short,” said the AVP in an official statement.
Weather had been a factor throughout the previous two and a half days, with heavy winds and rains even delaying the start of the tournament
Early on, top seeds on the women’s side Jen Kessy and April Ross were defeated by local duo Raquel Ferreira and Kristen Batt. Batt and Ferreira then lost to Brittany Hochevar and Lauren Fendrick in a competitive match that ended 21-17, 21-14.
Despite scoring multiple match points against them, Batt and Ferreira were ultimately eliminated in the quarterfinals by Kerri Walsh Jennings and Whitney Pavlik, losing 18-21, 27-25, 18-8.
“We were happy that we played well,” said Ferreira, speaking to the Tampa Bay Times. “But it’s very frustrating when you play that well and you have the chance to finish the match and you don’t.”
Ross and Kessy meanwhile, overcame their early defeat, to reach the women’s final. There they were set to meet Emily Day and Summer Ross, who reached the final by closing out Kerri Walsh Jennings and Whitney Pavlik for the sixth straight time, 22-20, 21-17.
But unlike the men’s final, which was rescheduled to be played in Santa Barbara prior to the kickoff of the Santa Barbara Open on, the women’s final was cancelled outright. Points, as well as first and second place prize money, will be split between the two teams.
“This was the last tournament Jen and I were scheduled to play together in and she’s going to visit family so won’t be available to replay the final this week,” explained April Ross. “It was our preference that it be split and Em and Summer graciously agreed. We would have loved to finish it here in St. Pete but Mother Nature wouldn’t have it. I’m sorry to the fans who were looking forward to it as we were.”
In the men’s final, Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson beat Theodore Brunner and Nick Lucena 22-20 in the first set. However they were trailing in the second when rain and heavy winds forced the suspension of play.
Brunner and Lucena reached the final via an upset over top-ranked men’s duo Phil Dalhusser and Sean Rosenthal, 15-21, 21-19, 15-10. Gibb and Patterson meanwhile, continued their stellar run of form this season, defeating Tri Bourne and John Hyden, 22-24, 21-17, 15-2 to reach the final.
In spite of the suspension of play on the last day, organizers, players and fans regarded the St. Petersburg Open as a success.
“The city has been supportive from the very beginning,” said AVP Managing Partner Donald Sun. “The fans here really love and understand their beach volleyball, and it was so great to see so many people from this area come out and cheer on their local players. Despite the outcome in the end, I couldn’t be happier with the turnout and support here in St. Pete.”
The AVP’s next tournament is scheduled forin Santa Barbara.