Favorites Ross/Fendrick Upset Early
The AVP Gold Series // Manhattan Beach Open Finals kicked off early with unexpected semi-final results on the South Bay sand and ramped up all afternoon. Gold Series stakes were high as the remaining teams battled for the legendary Manhattan Beach Open title, increased prize money and points in front of a full stadium of passionate fans.
The morning started with a huge upset in the women’s semi-finals of top ranked AVP champs and Olympians April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Lauren Fendrick (San Diego, Calif.) falling to brand new partners and the No. 15 ranked pair of Nicole Branagh(Orinda, Calif.) and Brandie Wilkerson (Toronto, Canada). Forcing three sets to wow the crowd, a relaxed Branagh/Wilkerson took Ross/Fendrick and they were unable to recover the lead. In Wilkerson’s first-ever Manhattan Beach Open, this tournament marked the first time she qualified into the Main Draw.
The Women’s Final featured Branagh/Wilkerson against the No. 2 team of 2016 Manhattan Beach Open winners Brittany Hochevar and Emily Day. For practicing together only four times before the tournament, Branagh/Wilkerson put on an impressive performance, however, Hochevar/Day proved why they are the reigning champs and shut their opponents down in two solid sets, 21-18, 21-18.
“Did that really just happen!?” said an elated Day. “Brittany played like a stud all weekend. Big shout-out to Em’s Entourage!”
Reiterated an emotional Hochevar, “Thank you to the AVP family. This is about fighting and sticking together. This is all about family.”