COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 25, 2012) – Stein Metzger has won 16 domestic beach volleyball tournaments and two more internationally.
At this weekend’s Manhattan Beach Open, part of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, Metzger (Honolulu, Hawaii) and partner Mark Williams (Australia) are seeded 16th thanks to not having played in many domestic events over the past few years.
However, Metzger knows what it’s like to be the tournament’s top seed. He also knows what it’s like at the bottom.
“The one I remember is when I played with Sean Scott,” Metzger said of one of his first tournaments on the AVP Tour. “We qualified for our first tournament and we drew (top seeds) Jose Loiola and Kent Steffes. They were on fire. They were winning everything.
“It was old-school scoring and we switched at five so at the first side switch we were up 5-0. We got to the box and I look at Sean and I go, ‘I think we could really do this.’ We ended up losing 15-5.”
It isn’t easy climbing the ladder in any profession and it’s no different in beach volleyball, where teams without a lot of ranking points have to pay their dues by playing the top seeds first thing in the morning and sometimes on stadium court.
Weston Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) knows the feeling after he and partner Parker Kalmbach (Newport Beach, Calif.) faced two-time Olympians and Manhattan Beach top seeds Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) at 9 a.m. on Saturday on court No. 1.
Gibb and Rosenthal won 21-16, 21-16, but Carico came away from the match feeling positive after playing a team he had been watching play in the Olympics just two weeks ago.
“It was a good experience. We learned a lot,” Carico said. “We had nothing to lose so we just went for it.”
Whitney Pavlik (Laguna Beach, Calif.), who is part of the top-seeded women’s team at Manhattan Beach along with partner Jenny Kropp (Grand Island, Neb.) pointed out that the early morning matches always come after a day of qualifying for the main draw.
“My first year qualifying, we would work so hard. You would get tired from those qualifiers,” Pavlik said. “It’s one of those things where you go, ‘maybe if we play really, really well; maybe we will catch them on an off day.’ It’s hard, but I think you learn so much from those matches.”
The learning experience has paid off for Kropp and Pavlik, who rolled through their three matches on Saturday without dropping a set. They will play No. 4 seeds Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Rachel Scott (Laguna Beach, Calif.) in their first match on Sunday. On the other side of the winners’ bracket, No 3 Jennifer Fopma (Bellflower, Calif.) and Brooke Sweat (Fort Myers, Fla.) will play Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Brittany Hochevar (Fowler, Colo.).
Gibb and Rosenthal had a tougher time on Saturday, losing to Metzger and Williams in their second match, 21-19, 21-19. Gibb and Rosenthal remained alive in consolation after winning three straight matches on Saturday.
In the men’s winners’ bracket on Sunday, No. 2 seeds Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) will go up against No. 3 John Hyden (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and Sean Scott (Kailua, Hawaii).
On the other side of the bracket, No. 8 Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) and Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.) will face No. 5 Bill Allen (Fallbrook, Calif.) and Matt Prosser (Ventura Calif.).
Play will begin Sunday at 8 a.m. The finals on Sunday will be filmed for TV on NBC Sports Network and will be streamed live online. The women’s final will be at 2:15 p.m. PT and the men’s final is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT.
To view the men's main draw bracket, click here.
To view the women's main draw bracket, click here.