Garrett Roberts: An AVP Dream Come True Sooner Than Expected With Main Draw in Hermosa Beach
The first main draw for Garrett Roberts came both earlier than expected, and in a manner few, and certainly not Roberts, could predict.
For 24 years, he had been raised in Arizona. Only six of those did he play beach volleyball. He had gone to a park when he was 18, “playing jungle ball with these random people,” he recalled, “just trying to get better.”
Didn’t matter if it was jungle ball or AA ball or open-level ball: Roberts loved it. Loved it more than indoor, which he had picked up as a sophomore in high school. And so he began to drive all over the state. Anywhere he could find good beach volleyball, that’s where he’d be. Didn’t matter if it was an hour away on a Wednesday afternoon.
“Me and Christian Honer played together for like three years, ran tournaments, had fun,” Roberts said. “We were the two young guys in Arizona trying to beat up on the older players. We just never realized it was attainable at that point.”
Honer’s main draw aspirations were realized first. He made an NVL in 2015 and his first AVP in Chicago of 2018. Both knew, though, that to stay in Arizona would be to miss on the best training possible, in a state just a few hours west.
“It was always kind of a dream in Arizona,” Roberts said of making an AVP main draw. “The skill, the talent out here is so much better, so much better training. I didn’t think it was ever a possibility if I stayed in Arizona.”
And so, in September of 2018, he made the drive, landing on Huntington Beach in a move undergone by virtually every out of state professional beach volleyball player – Jake Gibb, Ryan Doherty, Casey Patterson, Stafford Slick, Billy Kolinske, the list could, and does, go on and on and on.
The goal was a simple, if not easy, one: Make one main draw. That’s it. That’s all Roberts focused on in his initial California season. The results, as they often are, were slow to come at first. A ninth in an AVP Next in April, first-round loss in the AVP Huntington Beach qualifier, ninth in another Next, first-round exit in AVP Austin, another ninth in an Open in San Antonio, second-round loss in AVP New York.
Slowly, though, the narrative of those tournaments began to change. He won the stay and play tournament after AVP New York with Jeff Samuels and claimed a third in an AVP Next in Huntington Beach. Those tournaments were a prelude to the massive leap to come, at AVP Hermosa, the biggest stage at this point in the AVP season.
Seeded 22nd in the qualifier, Roberts, who had never won multiple matches in a qualifier, and his partner, Garret Wessberg, would now have to win four. And then the wins, just as they did in New York and in Huntington, began to pile up: 21-13, 21-13 in the first round; 21-15, 18-21, 15-9 in the second; 24-22, 16-21, 15-12 in the third.
In the finals they’d meet Andrew Dentler and Daniel Dalanhese, who had made main draw in Huntington Beach together and were the top seed in Roberts’ and Wessberg’s bracket. Up 20-19 in the first set, Roberts was set far off the net, to the point that there was no real benefit to jumping. So he hit a standing cut shot that, somehow, found the sand.
21-19, Roberts and Wessberg.
One standing kill for set point would seem enough for the day, let alone the match. And yet there were Roberts and Wessberg again, up one in the second. Roberts dug a ball, and “normally,” he said, “if you’re going to get a dig on game point you’re going to want to get set,” but at that point, he really didn’t much care who put the ball away, or how, so long as it got put away. With Dentler and Dalanhese keeping an eye on Roberts, Wessberg hit a standing option. Didn’t matter if it was an anticlimactic way to earn a main draw, it was a main draw nonetheless.
“It went down,” Roberts said. “We were both so stoked.”
And in that moment, the driving all over Arizona, the odd practice hours, the move to Huntington – it was all vindicated. By a pair, of all things, of standing shots to make a main draw.
“My goal from the beginning of the year was to make it into at least one main draw,” Roberts said. “I didn’t realize it would be so soon.”
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