MASON, Ohio – Familiar faces dominated the sand Sunday as play wrapped up at the three-day AVP Cincinnati Open.
In front of a full house at Lindner Family Tennis Center, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross – a 2012 Olympic silver medalist – extended their perfect season, winning their fifth championship in as many tournaments to push their overall record to 26-0.
On the men’s side, second-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson captured their second straight Cincinnati title.
The top-seeded pairing of Walsh Jennings and Ross toppled second-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat in the finals for the fifth straight tournament.
The 21-14, 21-15 result earned the dynamic duo of Walsh Jennings and Ross their third titles in Ohio individually, their first in the Buckeye State as teammates. The two first teamed up in late 2013 after Walsh Jennings and her former partner, Misty May-Tranor, parted ways.
Already the winningest female player in beach volleyball history, Walsh Jennings won her 122nd tournament worldwide, tying her with Randy Stoklos for third all-time regardless of gender. She trails only Karch Kiraly (148 wins) and Sinjin Smith (139) for the most all-time wins in beach volleyball history.
Not to be outdone, Gibb and Patterson held off sixth-seeded Nick Lucena and Ryan Doherty, 21-13, 23-21, to claim their second AVP crown in the last three tournaments. It’s their sixth title on the tour since becoming teammates to start the 2013 season.
The AVP Cincinnati Open was the fifth event on the tour's seven-tournament 2014 schedule. Over the four days of competition, tournament organizers trucked-in 1,000 tons of sand to transform the home of the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament into a three-court sand volleyball center.
In addition to the champions, some of the best volleyball players in world took part in the event including Olympic gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser and women's defending Cincinnati Open champions Emily Day/Summer Ross.
The field also included some homegrown talent in Kelly Schumacher, a Queen City native and two-time WNBA champion who has made a professional sports career transition from the hard court to the sand.
Ohio’s own Tealle Hunkus (Girard, Ohio), who partnered with Kendra Van Zwieten (Pompano Beach, Florida), also advanced into the main draw.
Next up, the AVP will make the tour’s final east coast stop Sept. 5-7 on the Jersey Shore for the AVP DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational.