Walsh Jennings wins seventh Manhattan Beach Open title
Kerri Walsh Jennings reached another milestone in her illustrious beach volleyball career Sunday, winning her record seventh Manhattan Beach Open when she and partner April Ross defeated Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat in a shortened championship match.
After second-seeded Fendrick and Sweat won the first set 21-19, effects of a lower back injury Sweat suffered the previous week at the AVP Salt Lake City Open began to hamper her performance.
Top-seeded Ross and Walsh Jennings evened the match winning the second set 21-13 before the injury forced Fendrick and Sweat to “retire” from the match after trailing 9-0 in the third set.
“I’ll be OK. I thought I could play through it,” Sweat said. “On my first jump serve in the second set, I started to feel numbness and tingling down my leg, and it just kept getting worse. I thought I should probably look at the big picture and be cautious. The timing is bad because we’re supposed to be on a flight to Poland tonight.”
Sweat said she was still deciding whether to play next week at the FIVB Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
While Walsh Jennings, a resident of Manhattan Beach, celebrated her second straight MB Open title, Ross earned her first crown at the event known as the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.” The duo will share the winning check of $13,000 along with earning the prestigious bronze plaque bearing the winner’s names that will be placed of the Volleyball Walk of Fame atop the Manhattan Beach Pier.
“The more I play the sport, the more I realize the significance of this event. It’s a huge one,” said Walsh Jennings. “I didn’t really know that earlier in my career. I just thought it was another tournament. I know all the legends now. They’ve become part of my family. This is a small community and I’m just honored.”
“I’m humbled by the fact that I’m going to be up there with Kerri on that pier until the world ends,” Ross said.
Ross and Walsh Jennings reached the championship match after defeating the third-seeded team of Emily Day (Torrance) and Summer Ross 22-24, 21-15, 15-8 in the semifinals.
Day and Ross emerged from the Contender’s Bracket after a three-set loss to Hermosa Beach duo Fendrick and Sweat in the quarterfinals of the Winner’s Bracket.
Fendrick/Sweat eliminated No. 5 Lane Carico (Manhattan Beach)/Kim DiCello 21-15, 18-21, 15-11 in the semifinals.
In the men’s championship match, No. 6 Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal had little trouble beating fifth seeds Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers 21-17, 21-13. Rosenthal stepped up his game, helping Dalhausser who was still nursing an abdominal injury that kept the team out of the Salt Lake City Open.
Despite the injury, Dalhausser was second in the tournament in blocks (2.57 per game) and hitting percentage (.512).
“Manhattan is the Wimbledon here on the AVP for us. It’s a big one,” Rosenthal said. “Phil and I have been playing good this year. We weren’t 100 percent and played a little different game with Phil float serving and me jump serving; normally we’re the other way around but we did what we had to do. We’re stoked to win, and we’ll try to keep it going the rest of the year.”
The win marked the third MB Open title for Dalhausser who won the tournament in 2007 and 2008 with Rogers. Rosenthal captured his third championship, the first coming in 2009 when he partnered with Jake Gibb.
In 2010, Rosenthal teamed with Aaron Wachtfogel to win the tournament in a different manner. After the AVP shut down because of financial difficulties only days before the first match, the MB Open found a way to celebrate its 50 anniversary by going retro. The tournament was played with longer courts and sideout scoring where only the serving team can score compared to rally-scoring when a point is awarded every time the ball hits the ground.
Dalhausser/Rosenthal reached the championship match after beating second-seeded Tri Bourne (Manhattan Beach) and John Hyden 21-12, 14-21, 15-12 in the semifinals.
Brunner and Rogers had dropped to the Contender’s Bracket after a 21-16, 22-24, 15-11 third-round loss to No. 4 Brad Keenan and John Mayer.
The team fought its way back into the Winner’s Bracket after eliminating top-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson 15-21, 22-20, 15-10 to reach the final. Gibb and Patterson were upset by No. 9 Billy Allen and Trevor Crabb (Redondo Beach) 21-18, 21-9 in third round.
In between the semifinals and finals, the Legends Match was played featuring such former stars as seven-time MB Open winner Sinjin Smith, Tim Hovland who won six MB Open crowns and Manhattan Beach’s Steve O’Bradovich, the 1976 MB Open winner.
There was plenty of local talent competing in the Main Draw. Also competing on the Men’s side were No. 7 Stafford Slick (Hermosa Beach)/Adiran Carambula, No. 8 Casey Jennings (Manhattan Beach)/Jeremy Casebeer (Hermosa Beach), No. 12 Matt Prosser (Hermosa Beach)/Ty Tramblie, No. 14 Avery Drost (Manhattan Beach)/Derek Olson, No. 17 Joey Dykstra (Hermosa Beach)/Andy McGuire (Redondo Beach), No. 18, Aaron Wachtfogel (Hermosa Beach)/Bill Strickland, No. 23 Jon Mesko Manhattan Beach)/Mike Maghy, No. 24, Marty Lorenz (Hermosa Beach)/Jeff Carlson, No. 25 Gregg Weaver (Redondo Beach)/John Moran (Redondo Beach), No. 26 Braidy Halverson (Redondo Beach)/Sean Allstot, No. 28 Clay Paullin (Manhattan Beach)/Hawk Hatcher (Hermosa Beach) and No. 30 Adam Cabbage (Hermosa Beach)/Jake Rosener (Hermosa Beach) who advanced from the Qualifying Round.
Other local women playing in the Main Draw were: No. 9 Sheila Shaw (Redondo Beach)/Olaya Pazo, No. 10 Tealle Hunkus (El Segundo)/Briana Hinga, No. 13 Emily Stockman (Hermosa Beach)/Traci Weamer, No. 15 Andrea Peterson (Hermosa Beach)/Tanya White (Lawndale), No. 18 Angela Bensend (Hermosa Beach)/Geena Urango,
Advancing from Thursday’s Qualifier were No. 20 Irene Pollack (Hermosa Beach)/Caitlin Ledoux, No. 21 Amanda Wiggins (Redondo Beach)/Lynne Galli, No. 22 Katrina Zawojski (Hermosa Beach)/Michelle Iafigliola (Hermosa Beach), No. 24 Laryssa Mereszczak (El Segundo)/Emily Cook, No. 26 Amy Hvitfeldtsen (Hermosa Beach)/Jessica Jones (Redondo Beach), No. 27 Lara Dykstra (Redondo Beach)/Jace Pardon (Manhattan Beach), No. 28 Staci Venski (Manhattan Beach)/Laura Anderson (Hermosa Beach), No. 28 Sara Fredrickson (Torrance)/Jaimi Gregory.
The Manhattan Beach Open marked the fourth of seven stops on the AVP Tour which continues in Cincinnati, OH Aug. 29-31 and Atlantic City, NJ Sept. 5-7. The tour returns to Southern California Sept. 18-21 with the Huntington Beach Open.