OP PRO SURFING CHAMPIONSHIPS : Holland Tops Top-Seeded Potter on Final Wave

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Todd Holland was only in his second season on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals tour when he upset Martin Potter during a heat at the 1988 International Surf competition in Australia.

Two years later, Holland has added another victory over Potter. He eliminated the defending world champion and top-seeded surfer on Thursday in the third round of the Op Pro championships at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Holland of Cocoa Beach, Fla., scored 20.2 of a possible 30 on his final wave to slip by Potter of England, 85.7 to 84.1.

"I beat Martin in 1988 and he beat me (three) times last year," Holland said. "It's been seesawing back and forth."

With the victory, Holland advanced to today's quarterfinals along with Sunny Garcia of Waianae, Hawaii, Flavio Padaratz of Brazil, Tom Curren of Santa Barbara, Oceanside's Mike Lambresi, Marty Thomas of Sunset Beach, Hawaii, Brad Gerlach of Encinitas and Damien Hardman of Australia.

Holland, seeded 16th, said he's confident he can improve his best finish at the Op Pro, a ninth in 1987.

"I feel I'm surfing the best I have in a while," Holland said. "I've been working with a physical therapist and have been training in the gym. I feel a lot stronger."

He'll need that strength in his quarterfinal matchup with Curren, who beat Australian Luke Egan, 92 to 82.5, in the third round. Curren, a two-time world champion, is closing in on his fourth Op Pro title.

"It's going to be a tough heat," Curren said. "There's no question about it."

Thursday's upsets leave only two of the top-10 seeded surfers in the competition--Hardman, who's third, and Thomas (10th).

Hardman defeated fellow Australian Mitch Thorson, 94 to 79.6. Hardman is the only Australian man still in contention.

"This wave is leveling everyone out," said Hardman, whose score of 94 of a possible 100 is the highest in the contest. "You need a little bit of luck to win here."

Lambresi, who's all too familiar with Huntington's waves, upset 15th-seeded Nicky Wood of Australia.

"It's not that unexpected for me to do that well here," said Lambresi, who finished fifth at the Op Pro in 1984. "Instead of surfing defensively, I'm surfing offensively."

Lambresi, 27, is looking for his first victory on the ASP world tour. He has won the last three points championships on the Professional Surfing Assn. of America tour.

"I feel I can win this," Lambresi said. "If I lose, it's just one more opportunity lost."

Lambresi will meet Thomas, who grew up in Seal Beach, in the quarterfinals. Thomas eliminated seventh-seeded and 1987 Op champion Barton Lynch of Australia, 88.3 to 87.3.

Alisa Schwarzstein of Laguna Beach has had more on her mind than surfing this week, but she still has managed to reach the quarterfinals of the women's competition.

Shortly before competing in Sunday's first round, Schwarzstein learned that her grandmother had died. She competed anyway, winning her heat and then upsetting seventh-ranked Michele Donoghoe of Australia, Thursday.

"It has been a tough, emotional week," Schwarzstein said. "It means a lot to me to do well in this contest. I'm trying not to let it (her grandmother's death) affect me.

"She knows how much I love surfing on the tour. I know she's watching over me."

Schwarzstein will meet tour points leader Pam Burridge of Australia in today's quarterfinals.

Schwarzstein wasn't the only Orange County surfer to pull an upset Thursday. Jorja Smith of San Clemente surprised Lisa Andersen, a former Huntington Beach resident who now lives in Ormond Beach, Fla. Andersen is ranked second on the tour and has won two of the first five events this year.

Smith's sister, Jolene, didn't fare as well. She lost to Pauline Menczer of Australia, 66.8 to 41.5.

Menczer will meet defending Op Pro champion Frieda Zamba of Flagler Beach, Fla., in the quarterfinals.

Also eliminated Thursday were Janice Aragon of Huntington Beach, who lost to Burridge, and Encinitas' Tricia Gill, formerly of Newport Beach, who lost to Kim Mearig of Santa Barbara.

Mearig, the 1983 Op winner and a former world champion, will meet Jorja Smith in the quarterfinals. It will be the first meeting between the two this year.

Most athletes go to Disneyland after winning a championship. But Garcia paid a visit to the Magic Kingdom three times and also added a trip to Magic Mountain before competing in the Op Pro.

Garcia, who lives and trains in Oceanside for part of the year, said he wanted to take a break from the hectic Assn. of Surfing Professionals world tour.

His favorite amusement park ride? The Viper roller coaster at Magic Mountain.

"I've never been so scared in my entire life," he said. "It was scarier than any wave I've been on."

Garcia said he had planned to propose to his girlfriend, Anela, while on the roller coaster.

"I chickened out," he said. "I waited until we got back to the hotel."

Curren has been busy with more than surfing lately. The Santa Barbara native, who now lives in Biarritz, France, is working to expand the Surfrider Foundation, a U.S. environmental group, to Europe.

"We're getting a lot of support here in the United States and we wanted to make it more of a global thing," Curren said.

Several surfers from the tour will compete in a benefit contest for the foundation Sept. 24 at Menakoz, Spain.

Surfing Notes

Op officials say they're still trying to figure out where to move next year's competition. Construction begins on the Huntington Pier area later this summer and will interrupt surfing at the pier for several months. . . . News flash: Op officials also announced that the Op Pro beauty contest will be renamed the "sports model contest." The finals of the "sports model contests" are set for 9:40 a.m. today. . . . Men's surfing quarterfinals begin at 8 a.m. today, and the women's competition follows the "sports model contest" at 10:40 a.m. Women's semifinals start at 8 a.m. Saturday, followed by the Op junior amateurs and the men. The finals follow, beginning with the women at 11 a.m.

Results

Men

Main event Round 3 (Winner advances to quarterfinals)

Heat 1--Sunny Garcia (Waianae, Hawaii) d. Gary Elkerton (Mooloolaba, Australia), 84-78. Heat 2--Flavio Padaratz (Florianopolis, Brazil) d. Jeff Booth (Laguna Beach), 75.7-62. Heat 3--Tom Curren (Santa Barbara) d. Luke Egan (Newcastle, Australia), 92-82.5. Heat 4--Todd Holland (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) d. Martin Potter (Newquay, England), 85.7-84.1. Heat 5--Mike Lambresi (Oceanside) d. Nicky Wood (Newcastle, Australia), 82.5-77. Heat 6--Marty Thomas (Sunset Beach, Hawaii) d. Barton Lynch (Manly, Australia), 88.3-87.3. Heat 7--Damien Hardman (Narrabeen, Australia) d. Mitch Thorson (Margaret River, Australia), 94-79.6. Heat 8--Brad Gerlach (Encinitas) d. Chris Frohoff (Redondo Beach), 76.3-63.

Women

Main event Round 1 (Winner advances to quarterfinals)

Heat 1--Pauline Menczer (Bondi Beach, Australia) d. Jolene Smith (San Clemente), 66.8-41.5. Heat 2--Frieda Zamba (Flagler Beach, Fla.) d. Jodie Cooper (Albany, W. Australia), 87-57. Heat 3--Alisa Schwarzstein (Laguna Beach) d. Michele Donoghoe (Newcastle, Australia) 63.5-53. Heat 4--Pam Burridge (Newport Beach, Australia) d. Janice Aragon (Huntington Beach), 63-60. Heat 5--Wendy Botha (Sydney, Australia) d. Layne Beachley (Manly, Australia), 76-69.5. Heat 6--Toni Sawyer (Manly Australia) d. Nerida Falconer (Manly, Australia), 56.5-55.5. Heat 7--Jorja Smith (San Clemente) d. Lisa Andersen (Ormond Beach, Fla.), 61-55. Heat 8--Kim Mearig (Santa Barbara) d. Tricia Gill (Encinitas), 87.7-64.5.

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