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Gill Is Picking Her Spots--and Thriving : Surfing: Carlsbad woman who left tour six years ago upsets world champion Menczer to reach quarterfinals.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tricia Gill left the women’s surfing tour six years ago because the demands were wearing on her. She still wanted to surf, but not on demand. She wanted to choose when she would compete.

This year, Gill chose to surf both the Op Pro and the U.S. Open of Surfing. Without the pressure of world standings and constant competition, she has shined in the two contests at Huntington Beach Pier.

Thursday, in the second round of the U.S. Open’s main event, Gill, 28, took down the 1993 world champion, Pauline Menczer of Australia. At her mother’s coaching, Gill took off on a wave with the opening buzzer. Instead of waiting for the best waves in the 3-5 foot surf, she chose to get started early.

With four minutes to go in the 25-minute heat, Menczer needed a 7.9 to move into the lead.

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Taking advantage of the priority buoy used in one-on-one competition, Gill kept Menczer from catching the wave she needed. Afterward, it was a mixture of emotions--elation and relief for getting through the round, sadness with a little guilt for defeating her friend.

“I’m shocked. I know Pauline and she’s really good,” Gill said. “I really respect her. She gets three maneuvers to a wave.”

Gill joined the tour when she was 18, and stayed four years. She quit when she was fifth in the standings and settled into a routine in Carlsbad, where she works nights at a grocery store and surfs with friends and neighbors during the day.

Gill will face Kylie Webb of Australia in the quarterfinals, which begin at 2:20 p.m. today. Op Pro winner Frieda Zamba of Flagler Beach, Fla., faces Rochelle Ballard of Kuaui, Hawaii; Huntington Beach’s Nea Post surfs against Kathy Newman of Australia, and top-seeded Lisa Andersen of Ormond Beach, Fla., faces Vanessa Osborne of Australia.

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In men’s surfing, all four wild cards advanced to the third round. Surfing in better conditions at 6 a.m., former world champion Tom Curren caught three tube barrel rides in four waves. He scored a 9.17, the highest scoring ride of the day. One judge gave him a perfect 10. He now faces Australian Dave Macauley, who finished third on the 1993 world tour.

Newport Beach’s Richie Collins defeated Barton Lynch of Australia and will face Gary Elkerton in the first heat at 6 a.m. today. San Juan Capistrano’s Shane Stoneman beat Australian Martin Potter by .03 points. He meets 1992 world champion Kelly Slater at 9:20 a.m.

Jeff Deffenbaugh of Huntington Beach has not surfed since he won his first-round heat Wednesday. In the third round, he faces Cardiff’s Rob Machado at 11:50 a.m.


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