Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

USAV Beach Sweeps Gold in Fuzhou, China

American beach teams achieved outstanding success at the Fuzhou Open in China, further solidifying their position in Olympic qualification. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena secured their fifth gold medal of the qualifying season, making it their eighth overall since forming as a team. April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings also claimed their second gold medal, bringing their total to six. The exceptional performances of both teams resulted in a total of six American teams finishing in the top 10.

Dalhausser and Lucena’s victory elevates them to fifth place in the provisional Olympic rankings, a remarkable jump from their previous position at 13th on April 18. Only 40 points separate them from Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, the top-ranked U.S. men’s team in third place, who have earned one gold and one silver medal during the qualification process.

Meanwhile, Ross and Walsh Jennings are projected to move up to fourth place in the rankings, surpassing their current position at eighth.

Both American teams dominated their matches, going undefeated with a 7-0 record en route to their respective gold medals. Ross and Walsh Jennings, who were seeded first, have now secured a spot on the podium in four consecutive events in 2016, improving upon their bronze medal finish in Xiamen last week. Similarly, Dalhausser and Lucena, also seeded first, only dropped two sets throughout the entire tournament.

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Dalhausser and Lucena faced tough opponents on their path to victory, defeating Italy in the second round and Mexico in the third round. In the semifinals, they triumphed over Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins with a score of 21-19, 21-13, clinching a place in the gold medal match. There, they defeated another Italian pair, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, with a score of 21-18, 21-15.

Meanwhile, Ross and Walsh Jennings encountered Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in the second round, eliminating their fellow Americans with a score of 21-10, 21-17. In the third round, they faced Lane Carico and Summer Ross and emerged victorious with a score of 21-16, 24-22.

Reaching the semifinals, Ross and Walsh Jennings defeated Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre with a score of 22-20, 21-12. In a rematch of last week’s bronze medal match in Xiamen, China, they convincingly beat Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude with a score of 21-15, 21-15, securing the gold medal.

Ross expressed her satisfaction with their performance, stating, “We started this tournament really rough, but we kept pushing through and improved with every match. This is the best we played in two weeks, so it was awesome.”

Aside from the gold medalists, Lane Carico and Summer Ross finished fifth, marking their highest finish of 2016. John Hyden and Tri Bourne also finished fifth, solidifying their position as the third-ranked U.S. men’s team in provisional Olympic rankings. Unfortunately, they were eliminated in the third round by Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira with a score of 23-21, 21-18.

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There was fierce competition between two teams vying for the second USA quota spot, Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, and Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day, both tying for ninth place. Fendrick and Sweat were defeated by Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen and Taru Lahti in round two with a score of 13-21, 21-18, 15-12, marking their best finish since March 11.

In summary, the Fuzhou Open showcased the dominance of American beach teams, with Dalhausser and Lucena, as well as Ross and Walsh Jennings, securing gold medals. Their exceptional performances have significantly improved their standings in the provisional Olympic rankings. This achievement serves as a testament to their hard work and dedication to the sport.