Final fantasy for California pros
September 2, 2008
ASPEN ” Jenelle Koester joked Monday afternoon that she and partner Paige Davis intentionally finished out of the main draw Friday at the AVP Crocs Cup Shootout outside Cincinnati so they could head to Aspen for the 36th annual MotherLode.
It’s not true, but it makes for a good story, especially over some cold adult beverages.
Koester and Davis planned to have a few of those Monday night to toast themselves for missing out on the money in Cincinnati so they could win some in Aspen.
For the second straight year, the MotherLode’s top prize for women went to two tournament newcomers who arrived in town a day after failing to make the cut at an AVP event.
“I’ve heard about this tournament forever, and all I’ve heard is that it’s a blast, it’s in an amazing city and, yeah, it’s a chance to make some extra money,” Davis said. “It’s been all of that.”
The pair from Hermosa Beach, Calif., became the new queens of the MotherLode by dusting off a former champion in Carrie Wright.
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Wright, who won the women’s open title in 2006 with Angela Knopf, paired with Kelly Rowe ” one of the players she beat in the final two years ago ” for this year’s run.
The mix of old and new made for a matchup between two very evenly matched teams, which the final scored reflected. Koester and Davis won the opening game, 25-23, then Rowe and Wright squared the match with a 21-17 win.
The 15-point tiebreaker ” and all that came with it ” came down to a couple hotly contested points at the end.
Wright and Rowe led the clinching game, 12-11, but after a Davis kill to knot the score, Wright just missed on two shots at the net, with both sailing wide.
With game point on the line, Davis then dug a blast from Wright, took a clean set from Koester and hit a blast that Wright dug out of the sand. Rowe couldn’t get to the airborne, ball, however, ending the suspense.
Wright said the final game was a test of endurance.
“MentalIy, I would say that all four players who were out there are strong mentally,” she said. “I think it came down to physical conditioning at the very end, not being able to breathe. I know that was it for me. … Even though they won, Paige was saying she couldn’t breathe either and she’s sick, too. I can tell my body is going to hurt for a whole week.”
After a string of tight matches over the course of two days, Davis expected nothing less in the final.
Wright’s height and vision at the net coupled with Rowe’s quickness proved to be a worthy test, but in a tight match, Koester and Davis managed to make fewer mistakes.
“This tournament is incredible,” Davis said. “The top six or seven teams were just unbelievable, so we had to play through all those. They almost always went to three games, so it made it that much better to win.”
“It feels amazing,” Koester added. “This is my first time to Aspen. It’s been absolutely great. Just a gorgeous setting and a great tournament.”
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