VIRGINIA BEACH — Deahna Kraft and Allie Wheeler knew they would be pegged as significant underdogs entering the women’s final Sunday at the AVP Tour Series Virginia Beach Open, but it seemed they had momentum on their side.
Seeded third, they found themselves squaring off against not only the top-seeded team, but also against the team that had won three straight Tour Series event this season in Larissa Maetsrini – a three-time Olympian who won bronze representing Brazil in 2012, and her partner Lili Maestrini.
Kraft and Wheeler caught had caught fire earlier in the tournament, however, and kept things going. The pair didn’t lose a set during the tournament and capped their magnificent run with a 21-19, 24-22 victory in the final.
“In the beginning of the week, we had two really tough practices, and going into a tournament weekend, that can be frustrating. We just trusted the process and trusted each other, and we kept growing,” Kraft said. “We’ve come across this team twice and lost to them in the semis, so it feels really, really good to come out on top this time.”
Fifth-seeded Tim Bomgren and Piotr Marciniak secured the men’s championship with a 21-16, 21-16 victory over second-seeded Avery Drost and Chase Frishman.
“We’ve had great moments throughout the course of the season, but we just couldn’t get the results we wanted,” Marciniak said. “This win means so much to us. We’ve made some adjustments in our game, and
it seems like they are working.”
Sunday marked the first AVP Tour Series win for Kraft and Wheeler and the first tournament win under the AVP banner for a pair that first formed their partnership earlier this year.
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The Maestrinis had won three previous tour events this season and had beaten Kraft and Wheeler in the semifinals in two of those. While Kraft and Wheeler lost to the Maestrinis in straight sets at the Muskegon (Michigan) Open in early June, six weeks later they battled in Atlantic City and lost 18-21, 21-12, 15-12.
Since then, Kraft and Wheeler secured seventh- and 17th-place finishes in two of the AVP’s top-tier Gold Series events, and they continued to play well just off 5th Street at the Oceanfront.
They beat teams seeded 14th and sixth in the early rounds, and might have realized the were in a zone when they rolled past second-seeded Carly Kan and Kaitlyn Malaney 21-10, 21-15 early Sunday. They beat fifth-seeded Aurora Davis and Teegan Van Gunst 21-18, 21-18 in the semis before taking down the Maestrinis.
Bomgren and Marciniak, new partners this season, also became first-time winners of an AVP Tour series event and had not previously won an AVP tournament at any level. They had not finished
higher than ninth prior to their run in Virginia Beach, where they lost just one set. After beating teams seeded 21st, 13th and eighth, they scored a 21-19, 19-21, 15-10 victory over top-seeded Timothy Brewster and Kyle Friend in a semifinal.
Returning to Virginia Beach for the first time since 2010, the tour served up its 11th of 16 tournaments during the 2022 season with a $50,000 purse.
The event featured a qualifier leading to 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams in the main draw.