Americans start strong at The Hague

Dominant start for American women at The Hague

Kerri Walsh Jennings-The Hague

New year. Same dominant start to the season for the American women.

On Thursday at The Hague, an event won in 2018 by April Ross and Alix Klineman without a single loss, both American teams – Kelly Reeves-Brittany Howard, Betsi Flint-Emily Day – made it through the qualifier and into the main draw, making it five total U.S. teams in the main draw. And on Friday that dominance continued, with Ross and Klineman winning both pool play matches in straight sets, over Emma Piersma-Puk Stubbe of the Netherlands (21-11, 25-23) and Ingrid Lunde-Oda Ulvseseth of Norway (21-19, 21-12).

Flint and Day took it from there, topping Latvia’s Anastasija Kravcenoka and Alise Lece (22-20, 17-21, 16-14), which preceded another three-set win over Japan’s Miki Ishii and Megumi Murakami (21-17, 23-25, 15-12).

The new – and young – team of Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil followed Flint and Day with a straight-set win over Ukraine’s Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Shchypkova (21-19, 21-14), though they fell in three to Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger in three (21-15, 19-21, 11-15).

In Pool H, arguably the most intriguing pool of the tournament – for American fans, at least – which features two American teams in Howard-Reeves and Kerri Walsh Jennings-Brooke Sweat, as well as Walsh Jennings’ San Jose partner, Anouk Verge-Depre, Americans again dominated. Walsh Jennings and Sweat took the top spot with victories over the Czech Republic’s Michaela Kubickova-Michala Kvapilova (21-11, 21-12) and Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich (21-17, 22-20).

Meanwhile, Howard-Reeves recovered from a 21-18, 21-17 loss to Verge-Depre-Heidrich with a 22-24, 21-17, 15-12 victory over the Czech. Not a single American women’s team was swept, and, really, the only hiccup from the men’s or women’s was a loss by the new partnership of Eric Zaun and Jeremy Casebeer in Thursday’s qualifier.

Aside from that, there’s power in numbers, and with five teams remaining for the women, and four for the men, well, it’s a strong start to 2019 thus far.