World Champs Day Six In Review
By Tom Feuer
- The most exhilarating moment for American fans on day six of the World Championships was the stunning comeback in the first round of elimination play by the young American team of UCLA grad Sarah Sponcil and her USC alum partner Kelly Claes. They were on the ropes in after losing the first set 21-19 and falling behind 14-9 and 18-14 in the second to Germany’s (dubious ranking) number one seeds, Sandra Ittlinger and Chantal Labourer in front of a partisan and packed swaying German crowd. Then Sponcil’s service game and Claes’ crafty over on two’s led the USA team to a stunning reversal of fortune in game two and a match win in three.
- Right afterwards, on a Stadium Court running an hour behind schedule because of so many three set matches, Claes’ former college teammate Sara Hughes and her partner Summer Ross took it to Germany’s reigning Olympic and World Champion Laura Ludwig and Maggie Kozuch before a packed crowd in the 13,200 seat capacity stadium. Ludwig was her usual brilliant self, but the former indoor national team star Kozuch has A LOT of work to do on her game.
- Had to have been weird for Dutch Coach Angie Akers when her team of Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink took on the American duo of Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen on the day before the Fourth of July. After all Akers was a major fixture of the AVP Tour, a Notre Dame graduate and as American as they come. Keizer and Meppelink kept up their hot streak in this tournament winning a battle in three.
- Nevertheless, Emily Stockman would get my vote for the World’s Most Improved Player this season. Her growth on the international stage has been meteoric.
- It has been a home court disadvantage on the Women’s side for Germany. They advanced a whopping six teams to the round of 32 but only one advanced, Karla Borger and Julia Sude who had to beat a German team to get to the round of 16.
- Major props to Billy Allen and Stafford Slick, who in a very form-filled men’s tournament pulled off one of the tournament’s biggest surprises taking down in Pool E the fifth seeded Russians, Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov.
- Adrian Carambula is at it again. The crazy-talented Italian via Uruguay and Florida is paired with Enrico Rossi and were in the field only due to an injury withdrawal. They ended up second in Pool D and barely lost in extra points in game three to pool champions Cherif and Ahmed of Qatar or else they would have had the good fortune of playing the winner of a Lucky Loser match in the first round eliminations.
- 39-year-old Floridians Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena looked awful against the Dutch bombers, Robert Meeuswen and Alexander Brouwer. They barely made it into the elimination round as a Lucky Loser by point differential. Tonight they got a new lease on life beating Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico in straight sets.
- Lots of Olympic champions can be spied from the media center. Dain Blanton, Julius Brink, Jonas Reckermann and Kira Walkenhorst are all working on site in some way, shape or form.