The Porsche Cup resembled its namesake – high performance, sporty, and stunning.
That was cheesy, I know. But the weekend really was as much fun as I imagine driving that Porsche Cayenne Coupe off the lot must feel. Exhilarating.
Though we witnessed so many fun moments – like John Hyden telling the ref to use all five senses, and when Tri Bourne jumped on my the Porsche after he won the Final, and the A-Team not dropping a single match in three weekends against some of the best teams in the world – a few elements stuck out to me this weekend.
Kenzie Ponnet and Sheila Shaw
This team has been solid for their entire year-and-a-half-long partnership (including their run from the Qualifier to the Semifinals last year in Hermosa with a broken hand from Sheila). But they looked extra in sync (*NSNYC?) this weekend. In the Qualifier, they got redemption against the two teams that beat them in the first two weekends – Corinne Quiggle/Allie Wheeler and Jace Pardon/Karissa Cook.
But this weekend, they prevailed against Quiggle/Wheeler in Round 2 and Pardon/Cook in the Game to Get In, 15-13 in the third set. As a reward for their win, they got a Saturday morning match against April and Alix. They lost (as every other team who played the A-Team did), and were then matched up against Em Day and Lauren Fendrick. Emily and Lauren were coming off of a phenomenal tournament the week previous (3rd place) and didn’t have to qualify on Friday. But Sheila and Kenzie more than held their own against the 13-time AVP winners right to a 3-set victory.
Sunday morning proved another good day for Sheila and Kenzie. Even though they lost in three to Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske, they played out of the minds. They even had match point at 14-13, but Emily and Kelley dug deep and found a way to win the match. Sheila and Kenzie ended the Series with an impressive 5th place and were the only original qualifying team to win a Main Draw match.
The Drama of Court 2
Court 2 went to three sets in almost all its hosted matches. It became a running joke among the staff. No one was surprised when someone announced, “Court 2 is going to three.” I outline the matches in my Saturday and Sunday Highlights, but some stand out.
- Casey Patterson/Theo Brunner’s Saturday win against Ricardo/Miles Evans.
- Brandie Wilkerson/Sara Hughes Saturday win against Crissy Jones/Traci Callahan.
- Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk’s Sunday win against StaffordSlick/Billy Allen.
- Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb’s Sunday win against Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk.
A few teams claimed vengeance this weekend, finally beating a team they’d struggled to beat in the first two weekends. I mentioned Sheila and Kenzie beating a familiar foe in the Qualifier, but two teams got payback against opponents that had beaten them twice in the Series.
Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes met Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson for the third time in as many weekends. But this weekend, Sarah and Kelly balled out. Kelly’s 28 kills, 8 digs, 3 terminal blocks, and 5 controlled blocks and Sarah’s 18 perfect digs for Kelly to go on two took care of the quarterfinals. That match became just one stepping stone on their way to the Finals.
Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne overcame a huge obstacle – Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb. Not only did they finally beat them for the first time in the Series decisively in two sets, but Trevor also got his first tournament victory of a tourney that Taylor was playing in. Taylor was absent from Trevor’s first and only other win – the 2019 MBO.
But Tri and Trevor also bested another opponent that had defeated them twice – Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. Up until that match, Phil and Nick looked unbeatable. They were, in fact, undefeated. They’d also previously beaten Tri and Trevor easily (21-13, 21-16 at the Monster Hydro Cup; 21-14, 21-18 in the Wilson Cup). But something unseen was powering Tri and Trevor during the Porsche Cup. They weren’t afraid of anyone and showed it by beating everyone in their path. Trevor must have foreseen it; that took guts to guarantee a win via social media before the tourney. How did he know he could back that up?
April Ross and Alix Klineman Reign Supreme
It’s not a recap without mentioning the Queens of the Champions Cup Series, the only team to go undefeated. Alix and April won 9 of their 12 matches in two sets, including all three of their Finals. This kind of domination proves their mastery of the game, chemistry as a team, and mindfulness under pressure. Even when they were down, you could almost see the switch go off in their minds – we. will. not. lose. They’ve always been an admirable team, but to do what they just did is genuinely astounding.
The last time a team that April Ross wasn’t a part of won three AVPs in a row was in 2009 when Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh did it. Since then, April has won three consecutive AVPs with three different partners – Jen Kessy, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and Alix Klineman. Now that is domination.