AVP Manhattan Beach Open

Sarah Pavan Seeking Belated Birthday Present in Manhattan Beach Open Title

2019 Manhattan Beach Open
Manhattan Beach Pier
Credit: Robert Beck

Photo: Robert Beck

Sarah Pavan would be just fine with a belated birthday present. Her real birthday was on Friday, and she had a gift enough in getting to play in the first Manhattan Beach Open main draw of what is becoming one of the most prolific careers in Canadian beach volleyball.

The two wins on Friday were nice and all. As were the well-wishes. She’s thankful, really. But she’d be extra appreciative of her 33rd birthday coming with the most coveted prize, outside of an Olympic gold medal, in beach volleyball: Her name, alongside Melissa Humana-Paredes, engraved on the Manhattan Beach Pier.

“The best birthday present would be winning tomorrow,” she said after beating Emily Day and Betsi Flint, 25-23, 21-19, in a rematch of the Edmonton Three-Star finals. “For sure. I’m fine with a belated birthday present tomorrow.”

The road to that present will not be easy. They will play the winner of upstart team Kelly Reeves and Terese Cannon and the reunited team of Caitlin Ledoux and Maria Clara Salgado. Win that and they will see either April Ross and Alix Klineman, Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson, or Day and Flint in the finals.

No easy road. Humana-Paredes recognized as much.

“We just try to stay composed,” she said after beating Day and Flint. “That team is going to fight. And with the freeze rule, we know every point is so precious. We just try to hone in on our staples. I think our passing was really good. For the most part, we just try to stick together. It was a grind, a battle. We had to push hard and be patient which is difficult to do.”

It was especially difficult to do for Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson, who had one of the oddest 9-5 days one could imagine. They were assigned the first match of the day, at 9:15, against Chase Frishman and Avery Drost. After a three-set win, 21-14, 19-21, 16-14, they rested. And rested. And rested some more.

All the way until the final match of the day, against Tim Bomgren and Troy Field, which wouldn’t begin until nearly 6 p.m. They’d win, 21-18, 21-18, in a match that would finish as the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon.

“First legit nine to five working day I’ve had,” Budinger, a former NBA player, joked on his walk back to the car.

Not a bad office.

And tomorrow they’ll get to do it again, sitting in the semifinals with Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. They get to sleep in a bit, too, not starting until 12:15 on court one.

Worry not, Budinger. The 9-5 grind is over.