In their first AVP tournament as partners, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross played five matches on their way to winning the Santa Barbara Open title and never dropped a set. In fact, the most points any opponent got on the duo was the 19 Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar managed to slip away with in the second game of their semifinal match. Even in the final, opponents Brooke Sweat and Jennifer Fopma were only able to gather 18 points in the first game. By the second, Walsh Jennings and Ross were playing at such a high level, the No. 3-seeded Fopma and Sweat could only steal away 10 points from the eventual champs.
Thirteenth-seeded Dianne DeNecochea and Raquel Ferreira were the only women’s team able to bust out a few impressive upsets in the Santa Barbara event. In the first round, they defeated Emily Day and Summer Ross in straight sets (21-16, 24-22) and then proceeded to send Christal Engle and Tealle Hunkus to the contenders’ bracket (21-19, 21-15). It was only when they met April Ross and Walsh Jennings in the quarters that they dropped their first match. Day and Summer Ross then took their revenge for the first round upset by ending the duo’s run with a 21-16, 21-19 victory. DeNecochea, 45, has been playing on the AVP since 1999 and took her last title win at the 2009 Coney Island Open in Brooklyn with Carrie Dodd.
DeNecochea and Ferrira’s loss to Day and Ross left the top four seeds to battle it out in the semifinals. Brooke Sweat and Jennifer Fopma defeated Summer Ross and Day to advance to the final where they met April Ross and Walsh Jennings coming off their win over Fendrick and Hochevar.
On the men’s side, if you were to just read the final result, you might not think anything out of the ordinary went down at the Santa Barbara Open: Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson took home the title, earning their fourth consecutive AVP win. But look at the bracket and you’ll see John Hyden and his rookie partner Tri Bourne in their first final of the season, losing by only two points in each final set; Billy Allen and Braidy Halverson, the 11th seed, tying their highest-ever AVP finish by making it to the semifinals (their last third-place finish was in 2010 at the Ft. Lauderdale tour stop); and Stafford Slick and Adrian Carambula bursting past their previous best result of fifth and taking Gibb and Patterson to 22-20 in the second set of the semifinal match.
Back up even further to see Tim and Brian Bomgren, brothers from Minnesota, shock No. 2-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal by sending them to the contenders’ bracket in the first round of the tournament. The brothers even managed to hold the Olympians to only seven points in the third set. They then lost to Slick and Carambula and subsequently to Kevin McColloch and Mark Williams to end their tournament. Dalhausser and Rosenthal managed to power through three rounds in the contenders’ bracket before letting Allen and Halverson get the better of them 21-23, 23-21, 19-17 in a match that stretched on for a full hour and 12 minutes. The match determined who would make the crossover and play Hyden and Bourne in the semifinals.
Patterson and Gibb will attempt to make it a five-peat Oct. 18-20 at the final event of the AVP season in Huntington Beach.