LONG BEACH, Calif. (July 24, 2013) – After roughly seven years as partners and friends, U.S. beach volleyball players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy know what it takes to bounce back from a disappointing loss.
On Wednesday at the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, they did just that defeating Germany’s Victoria Bieneck and Julia Großner, 21-11, 14-21, 15-12 in 45 minutes to advance from the first round of single elimination. Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Kessy (San Clemente, Calif.) will face Brazil’s No. 5 seeded Agatha Bednarczuk and Maria Antonelli in the second round on Thursday.
It has been a season of ups and downs for Ross and Kessy, who won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The key for the U.S. pair has been to keep the distractions off the beach.
Prior to Long Beach, the team had played in five FIVB events. After a rough start, Ross and Kessy looked to be improving with a fourth-place finish in Argentina and then a silver medal in the Rome Grand Slam.
But the next week, Kessy withdrew from the FIVB World Championships to rehabilitate a hip injury. She also missed the following event in Gstaad and ended up taking about a month off.
Ross and Kessy agreed that the time apart showed in their 21-19, 21-15 loss to Switzerland’s No. 17 Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Dépré on Tuesday.
“Yesterday I didn’t think we played very well,” Ross said. “I felt like we had a month apart.”
Kessy agreed that she was not at her best.
“Yesterday was one of those days where I wasn’t on my game,” she said. “I wasn’t horrible, but they (Forrer and Vergé-Dépré) played great. What are you going to do? You can’t win ’em all, unfortunately.”
There have been ups and downs away from the sand as well. Kessy married French beach volleyball player Andy Ces in March. Two months later, her father passed away.
Both players have also said that this will most likely be their last season as a team as Kessy wants to slow down to start a family while Ross has said she wants to make a push toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She has said she will partner with three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings (Saratoga, Calif.) for a few tournaments near the end of the season
But in Long Beach, both Ross and Kessy are working to stay in the moment and not let the distractions affect their play.
“This is my job and this is how I make money,” Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) said. “I can’t afford to be living in the future or in the past for that matter. I’m just here in the moment.”
Kessy calls beach volleyball her “time of therapy.”
“I don’t have to think about anything that’s happening in my personal life,” she said. “I don’t have to think about the future. It’s actually quite nice not to think for a little bit.”