The first weekend of the Australian beach volleyball season has been dominated by several new pairings, with an upset in the women’s competition and a solid win for Australian squad members Zachary Schubert and Cole Durant in the men’s at the NSW Open at Manly Beach.
The Czech Republic’s Michaela Vorlova and Victorian Christie Jenkins stunned 2016 Olympian Nikki Laird and 2012 Olympian Becchara Palmer in straight sets in the women’s final.
Vorlova, who has lived in Manly for the past two summers, and Jenkins, who has just returned from playing in the United States, had to survive a thrilling three-set encounter with Manly locals Alice Rohkamper and Jo Healy to book their place in the final.
Vorlova finished runner up at the NSW Open in February, but went one better with Jenkins, beating Laird and Palmer 21-19, 21-13 in cool conditions on Sunday afternoon.
Schubert and Durant, who are part of the men’s high performance program at the AIS in Adelaide, started the NSW Open as the favourites, but had to work hard to overcome Victoria’s Schumann brothers 22-24, 21-16, 15-7 in the final.
Damien Schumann, who won every domestic title with regular partner Joshua Court in the 2015/16 season, took advantage of Court’s unavailability to play a tournament with younger brother, Justin.
Schubert and Durant enjoyed a strong height advantage, but it took all three sets to finally wear down the incredible defence of the Schumanns.
The bronze medals in the women’s competition went to Rohkamper/Healy and Irina Penkina/Sarah Richter.
In the men’s competition, bronze medals went to Manly locals Aaron Crook/Bart Bolsterlee, and Tim Dickson/Max Guehrer.