AVP Manhattan Beach Open
Recent USC grads Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have a shot at their first professional title after advancing through the contender’s bracket to the Manhattan Beach Open semifinals.
No. 23 Claes/Hughes, the defending NCAA and USAV Collegiate Beach champions, lost to No. 10 seed Cailtin Ledoux and Maria Salgado (21-19, 21-19) in the opening round of the main draw. The duo then played through five matches in the contender’s bracket, topping No. 9 Karolina Marciniak and Kendra Van Zwieten (21-18, 21-16), No. 3 Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen (21-18, 15-21, 15-12), and No. 5 Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat (21-19, 22-20) along the way. The duo even avenged its opening loss, taking a rematch with Ledoux/Salgado (21-14, 22-20) in the round of 16.
The pair, which made the semifinals and finished third at the Long Beach President’s Cup in July, are looking for their best finish since turning pro.
Joining Claes/Hughes in the semifinals by way of the contender’s bracket are No. 15 Nicole Branagh and Brandie Wilkerson. The duo fell to the contender’s bracket after a second-round loss to No. 2 Emily Day and Britany Hochevar (21-17, 21-8). The pair bounced back with five wins, including wins over No. 6 Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman (21-18, 21-13), No. 7 Jenny Knopp and Heather McGuire (18-21, 21-10, 15-9) and No. 8 Lane Carico and Alix Klineman (21-15, 21-12).
Rounding out the semifinals are Day/Hochevar and No. 1 seed Lauren Fendrick and April Ross, each of which cruised to the quarterfinals. Day/Hochevar then defeated Stockman/DiCello (21-19, 21-18) to move on, while Fendrick/Ross dispatched Ross/Sweat in a tight three-set affair (21-17, 17-21, 16-14).
Claes/Hughes will face Day/Hochevar in the first semifinal at 11:45 a.m. ET on Sunday, while Branagh/Wilkerson will take on Fendrick and Ross. The winners will play for the title at 2:30 p.m ET.