Kerri Walsh-Jennings, the winningest player in the history of professional beach volleyball, plans to audition new teammates for the 2017 season as she begins to plan for 2017.
At the end of the World Tour Finals, Walsh-Jennings and her teammate April Ross were non-committal about the future, saying that they needed a break to consider their options.
Now, Walsh-Jennings has told FIVB that she will begin auditioning new partners for the 2017 season while April Ross works on starting a family.
Ross, 34, is married to Arizona State beach volleyball head coach Brad Keenan, and the couple will try to conceive their first child this off-season, which would cause Ross to miss the 2017 season.
She says her career isn’t over, though. The plan is to attempt to get pregnant in the off-season, and if she’s unable to, then she would play out the 2017 season and try again at a pregnancy after next season.
“I don’t want to have to miss two seasons ideally,” Ross said.
While the 2017 plan is beginning to take place, there’s still no decision on 2020.
“The way I work, I would like to know right now,” Walsh-Jennings said. “But that’s not the reality of the situation.”
Instead, she’ll gauge how she feels at the end of each year and decide whether to play on or not.
“If I keep playing and go to the next Olympics, there is nobody I’d rather play with (than Ross),” Walsh Jennings said. “But there are no assumptions there. We would have to talk about it and figure it out.”
Ross says she understands the situation, and that Walsh-Jennings might find a new partner with whom she gels.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s no part of me that doesn’t worry about it,” Ross said. “If at the end of the day that’s what happens, that’s what happens, and I’ll be OK with that.”
The two hooked up after the 2012 Olympics where Walsh-Jennings’ former partner Misty May-Treanor retired. Together, that pairing had one of the most incredible runs in the history of sports – winning gold at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics after Walsh-Jennings transitioned from the indoor Olympic team in 2000 to the beach four years later.
Walsh-Jennings and Misty-May Treanor had several huge win streaks including one as long as 112 matches. In Olympic play, the two won 32 consecutive sets without a loss before dropping one set to an Austrian pair in London – though they still won the match.
Walsh-Jennings is familiar with Ross’ quest to have a child – she and former pro beach husband Casey Jennings have had three together – in 2009, 2010, and 2013. She was 5 weeks pregnant when she won gold at the 2012 Olympics.
Walsh-Jennings says she has no idea who she’s playing with next season, but plans to identify a few candidates and bring them in for training sessions.
The international beach volleyball season starts in February.