Starting Over Is Not Easy for Youngs, Wacholder
Elaine Youngs and Rachel Wacholder found out the hard way that life apart won’t be as easy as it was together.
The former beach volleyball partners who made a surprising split this week each lost third-round matches with new teammates Friday at the Manhattan Beach Open. Now each must claw through the loser’s bracket if they are to reach the final.
Third-seeded Youngs and Nancy Mason lost, 21-19, 23-21, to No. 6 Dianne DeNecochea and Tammy Leibl, and No. 4 Wacholder and Jennifer Boss lost, 19-21, 21-19, 15-13, to No. 5 Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan.
Each rebounded with a fourth-round victory, but it’s not exactly the route to the title the former teammates had planned or one they are used to. The last time either player lost on the first day of an AVP tournament was June in San Diego.
Together, Youngs and Wacholder made the finals in six of 10 tournaments this year, winning twice. They were the No. 2 team on tour before parting ways earlier in the week.
“It’s not the norm, but it’s character building,” Youngs said. “Tomorrow we bring the hard hats and lunch pails and we have our work cut out for us, but I’m still confident.”
The four women’s teams that made it through the first day undefeated are teams that have played together all year. Top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh dropped a game in their third-round match, but otherwise cruised.
Second-seeded Holly McPeak and Nicole Branagh went three games in two of their matches, but advanced. The teams of DeNecochea and Leibl and Davis and Johnson Jordan also went undefeated, but much of the day’s buzz centered on the aftermath of the Young-Wacholder breakup.
“With the breakups, there’s two more great teams out here,” Walsh said. “They’re competitive people and they want to win. They’re with new partners and starting fresh so that makes it tougher.”
Many predicted Walsh and May-Treanor would breeze to the tournament time with Wacholder and Youngs no longer a team.
But Walsh said that losing the first game in their 19-21, 21-15, 15-6 third-round victory over Tyra Turner and Makare Wilson showed that it wouldn’t be easy.
“People keep saying that, but we don’t feel it,” Walsh said. “We have to earn everything out here.”
And they are a little more hungry than usual because last week in Austria, they finished fifth, ending a streak of 39 consecutive tournaments in which they reached the final.
“We want to come back and do well, for sure,” Walsh said. “It’s not fun not being in the finals.”
In men’s action, top-seeded Mike Lambert and Stein Metzger and second-seeded Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser made it through the first day undefeated. The men played only two rounds because their final is not until Sunday. The women’s final is today.
The biggest upset on the men’s side came in the second round, when third-seeded Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer lost, 21-19, 18-21, 19-17, to No. 14 Kevin Wong and Ty Loomis.
Seventh-seeded Karch Kiraly and Larry Witt were also knocked to the loser’s bracket with a 21-18, 21-17 second-round loss to Brent Doble and Ryan Mariano.