U.S. Beach Team Wins Gold in Australia

Jan. 18, 2009, 1:19 a.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800               
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 18, 2009) – The U.S. beach volleyball team of Tara Roenicke (Alta Loma, Calif.) and Summer Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.) dominated the Australian team of Zina Stone and Mariafe Artacho, 2-0 (21-17, 21-9), to win the gold medal at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) on Sunday in Sydney.

Roenicke and Ross finished the tournament with a 5-0 record.

According to a press release by the Australian Olympic Committee, the final match started with a strong serve from Artacho leading to an intense rally, but a shot from the Aussies went long and the U.S. team claimed the first point.

The Australians, who were the No. 1 seeds at the tournament, did not play their best under warm conditions at Maroubra Beach. Blocking was a particular weakness, with Stone and Artacho letting nerves get the better of them.

In front of the biggest crowd the tournament has seen, Stone and Artacho tried hard in the second set with some strong rallies, but Roenicke and Ross proved too good, easily finishing the game 21-9.

The winners were thrilled with their gold medal and paid tribute to the Australians.

“They’re strong. It would be fun to play them again,” Ross said.

“It feels awesome. No words can explain it,” Roenicke said

But she warned the best was yet to come for the partnership.

“We could have played better. We haven’t played like ourselves in this tournament. But we did good; it was a good win and we got gold!”

After the formalities were over, the Americans were embraced by Ross’ parents, who accompanied them to Australia. They were also congratulated by AYOF beach volleyball ambassador and Australian Olympic gold medalist Natalie Cook.

The web site for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival is at http://ayof09.olympics.com.au/.