Pic by Owen Hammond/APAC Sport Media
Top seeds Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann have staged an epic comeback to beat Americans David McKienzie and Ian Satterfield in the final of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour Finals at Sydney’s Manly Beach.
And Olympians Louise Grice and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have had an emphatic victory in the women’s final, beating Manly locals Alice and Jahannah Rohkamper in straight sets in the women’s final.
McHugh and Schumann found their backs to the wall early against the Americans, dropping the opening set 21-13 and looking outclassed.
But a capacity crowd lifted the Australians in the second set, and with McHugh strong at the net and Schumann finding plenty of speed in defence, they managed to level the score at 21-16.
The third set was a tense affair, with words being exchanged between both teams as the Australians took an early lead, eventually bringing the crowd to its’ feet by talking the third, 15-10.
The win followed victories at the World Tour event in Shepparton and the Four Nations Cup at Manly, both this month.
“We both got a bit uppity during today’s match, but Damo played great today and we were lucky to come away with a win,” McHugh said.
“The way we play is constantly evolving. We’re getting better at it, but today shows we are in no means perfect.”
In contrast the women’s final was more straightforward, with three-time Olympian Grice and Rio athlete Artacho del Solar proving too strong for the Rohkamper sisters.
Grace and Artacho del Solar dropped only one set for the weekend.
“We really just wanted to put our best out their today,” Grice said.
“We had to really put ourselves on the edge this weekend, and to go for some new things. There’s been a lot that I’ve got out of it, but I think the most important thing is showing good teamwork.”
The win capped off a big week for Artacho del Solar, who won silver last weekend at the World Tour event alongside Jessyka Ngauamo.
“Its been an exciting two weeks,” she said.
“I always aim to end on the podium, and I’ve loved playing with Lou this weekend. I’ve learned so much, she is such a great leader out there.”
The men’s bronze medal went to Isaac Kapa and Tim Dickson, beating Japan’s Yoshimi Hasegawa and Masato Kurasaka 21-14, 21-16.
It was Kapa’s first tournament since undergoing hip surgery late last year.
The women’s bronze went to the Czech Republic’s Michaela Vorlova and Slovakia’s Lucia Michalovicova, who beat Australia’s Becchara Palmer and Jessyka Ngauamo 23-21, 21-18.
Both Vorlova and Michalovicova have been based at Manly for the past two summers.