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Walsh Jennings, Sweat win in China

Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brooke Sweat Win First Match in Xiamen

Kerri Walsh Jennings-p1440

The new Kerri Walsh Jennings-Brooke Sweat partnership continues to gain momentum in Xiamen, China. After winning two qualifier matches in straight sets, Walsh Jennings and Sweat did the same in the first round of pool play, making quick work of an excellent team in Brazilians Barbara and Fernanda, 21-16, 21-14.

It marks arguably the biggest single match win of the partnership. Last year, Fernanda and Barbara toggled between the No. 1 ranked team in the country and rarely ever dropped below the top five.

The win secures Walsh Jennings and Sweat advancement from pool play. They’ll meet Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy for the top position in pool.

Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman, too, won their first, a three-setter over Finland’s Taru Lahti and Anniina Parkkinen, 18-21, 21-8, 15-9. In the second round they will match up against Brazilians Agatha and Duda.

Summer Ross and Sara Hughes made their 2019 debut — lest you count an event on the Brazilian tour — a good one, taking down Italians Viktoria Orsi Toth and Marta Menegatti 21-17, 21-17. They’ll meet China’s Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia in the second round of pool.

Alix Klineman and April Ross have an uphill battle ahead after an opening round loss to China’s Xinxin Wang and Chen Xue, 21-16, 21-18. In a win or go home match in round two, they will see Germans Laura Ludwig — the 2016 Olympic gold medalist back from maternity leave — and Margareta Kozuch.

The American men have had a tough start. John Hyden and Ryan Doherty lost in the final round of the qualifier, while Billy Allen and Stafford Slick, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb all dropped their opening pool play matches.

Dalhausser and Lucena, slotted in one of the more difficult pools in recent memory, lost to Andre Loyola and George Wanderley, 21-19, 21-17. They’ll have to peat Poland’s Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor to remain in the tournament.

Alison Cerutti, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and Alvaro Filho, a former champion at the erstwhile Fort Lauderdale Major, won a close one over Gibb and Crabb, 22-20, 23-21. Gibb and Crabb now match up with a formidable Turkish team to break pool.

Slick and Allen, after a narrow loss to China, must beat Germans Philipp Bergmann and Yannick Harms.