VETERANS SHOW YOUNGER OPPONENTS HOW IT’S DONE
Three-time Olympian Josh Slack and fellow veteran Bo Soderberg are once again turning back the clock after storming into the semi-finals of the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast.
39-year-old Slack and 38-year-old Soderberg combined to beat New Zealand’s top team, Sam O’Dea and Mike Watson, in an entertaining three-set quarter final at Surfers Paradise.
“We made a pact as Australians that we didn’t want people from another country playing in our semi-finals, and we got the job done,” Slack said.
Slack, who played in the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, said it’s better to play with Soderberg than against him.
“I always hated playing against him because he is so competitive, but we have very similar offences and it’s working, so we want to keep it going,” he said.
Slack and Soderberg will face the in form Australian team of Josh Court and Damien Schumann in Monday’s semi-final.
Court and Schumann have won the South Australian and Queensland Opens already this year, but Soderberg believes experience is a big advantage.
“It’s a big factor, I think Josh and I have 500, maybe 600 tournaments between us, so we have a little bit of experience of what people are going to do in different situations,” he said.
“So that’s where we take the points when it’s really tight in the set. We’re both very aggressive players on court and want to win, so we sometimes clash but we’re working it out.”
Australia’s top-ranked international team of Chris McHugh and Isaac Kapa had to survive two three-set matches on Sunday to move into Monday’s semi-finals.
In their final pool match they beat Victorian youngsters Justin Schumann and Patrick Tang 15-13 in the third set.
They’ll take on Western Australians Casey Grice and Cole Durant in the semi-finals.
World U23 champions Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar are the only all-Australian combination left in the women’s draw.
They’ll take on New Zealand’s Shaunna Polley and Julie Tilley, who continued their strong opening day form on Sunday.
The second semi-final will be between South Australian Open winners Michaela Vorlova, of the Czech Republic, and Slovakia’s Lucia Michalovicova, and QLD Open winners Sydney’s Christie Jenkins and American Brittany Tiegs.
You can find all the draws and results for the 2016 Australian Beach Volleyball Championships here..
NEW ZEALANDERS CONFOUND AUS OPEN HANDICAPPER
New Zealand beach volleyballers Shaunna Polley and Julia Tilley have confounded the handicappers by dominating their pool on the opening day of the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast.
Polley and Tilley, New Zealand’s top female team, were given 14th seeding for this weekend’s event, despite strong form in New Zealand this summer.
“Today coming out there mentally we thought we had something to prove, being 14th seed, so we were really hungry to take that top spot,” Tilley said.
“It’s been a busy season so far in New Zealand, which has been really good prep for us.”
The New Zealanders found themselves drawn in the opening match against tournament fourth seeds, and home town favourites, Jordan and Justine Mowen.
Polley and Tilley had all the answers, winning 21-12, 21-18, and then convincingly won their remaining two pool matches.
Despite their success, the Polley-Tilley combination may soon be coming to an end.
“I’m planning on doing a year’s worth of travel in the States, so we’re still working out how it’s going to work out for us as a team, but it’s not looking all that good,” Polley said.
“This season we’re really just starting to peak, our base level is much higher, so we’re playing a lot more consistent, and winning against some top girls.”
There were few other surprises on the opening day of competition, played in mostly dry conditions under threatening skies.
Women’s top seeds, Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, comfortably topped their group, while the top men’s teams all emerged unscathed.
The Australian Championship finals will be played on Monday afternoon.