Upsets aplenty at SA Open


2012 Olympian Becchara Palmer and rising star, Phoebe Bell, have upstaged pre-event favourites Louise Bawden and Nikki Laird to win the women's final at the SA Beach Volleyball Open at Adelaide's Glenelg Beach.

In the men's event, Western Australia's Casey Grice and towering Dutchman, Bart Bolsterlee, beat Adelaide based Cole Durant and Zachery Schubert 21-18, 24-22.

Durant and Schubert won last month's season-opening NSW Open.

Bawden and Laird both competed in Rio, with different partners, but this was the first weekend they played together.

Adelaide's Palmer, who partnered Bawden at the 2012 Olympics, partnered with Laird at the NSW Open last month at Manly Beach.
Palmer and Bell started strongly in the final, taking the opening set 21-14.

But Bawden and Laird fought back to take the second set, 21-19, forcing the match into a third set decider.

The contest became a fierce arm wrestle, with neither team able to take control, before Palmer and Bell eventually won 16-14.

While all four players are now based at the Volleyball Australia Centre of Excellence in Adelaide, only Palmer is a South Australian.

In the bronze medal match, Christie Jenkins continued her strong form, partnering with Manly's Katie Bartoli to beat 2016 Olympian, Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Thailand's Yupa Phokongploy 21-18, 17-21, 15-13.

Grice, who moved to Adelaide recently and is engaged to marry Bawden later this year, underlined his potential by partnering Bolsterlee to a strong straight-sets win over Durant and Schubert.

The pair dropped only one set over the weekend, against pre-event favourites Joshua Court and Damien Schumann in a hard-fought semi-final.

The men's bronze medal was won by Court and Schumann, the defending SA Open champions.

Schumann and Court, who are in the process of relocating from Melbourne to the Adelaide Centre of Excellence, won every Australian domestic and national title last summer.

However they came unstuck in Sunday's semi-finals against Grice and Bolsterlee, losing 15-21, 21-18, 16-14.

In the bronze medal match they triumphed over Kusti Nolvak and Mart Tisaar, 21-18, 21-19.