13.07.2019 - Gstaad
Gstaad. Come up, slow down. That’s what they said.
April Ross and Alix Klineman almost took that too literally – although it was hardly intentional.
The World Championship runners-up came into the Swiss Alps off the back of a rollercoaster 10 days in Hamburg and originally struggled to get their bodies and minds in gear.
A crushing pool play defeat to Spain’s Liliana and Elsa could have destroyed any top player’s confidence.
In their first elimination match it seemed that way. Down 11-1 in the first set to Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova the American stars were staring an early exit from the mountains squarely in the face.
But they dug deep. You don’t grind your way to a World Championship final without finding extra and stepping up in times of need.
The A-Team recovered. They won that game and then saw off Czech stars Barbora Hermannová and Marketa Sluková in straight sets in, the second set 21-9.
If that result signalled a return to form then the pair’s comfortable straight sets win over compatriots Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat suggests the rest of Gstaad should watch out.
“It’s been a bit of a slow start,” said Alix after their win over Kerri and Brooke. “We knew we had to raise the levels. It’s been a grind but we’re proud of how we’re fighting. Even thouh we’re don’t feel our best physically or mentally we’re still finding a way to win.
“The World Champs are like the Olympics, they are tough, you have to bring your all to every single match and we are capable of doing that. We did have a bit of an emotional hangover.
“But we did everything we could to step it up again. We weren’t giving as much in game as we could. The Russian game was like, well this is elimination. Either we find it now or we’re going home.”
And they’re not going home. They’re staying for two more matches and a shot at a medal and a cowbell.
A semi-final meeting against home favorites Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart or Slovakians Andrea Strbova and Natalia Dubovcova lies in wait on Sunday.
Also into Sunday’s last four are Maria Antonelli and Carol Solberg Salgado, the Brazilians who beat Dutch duo and reigning European Champions Sanne Keizer and Madeline Meppelink.
The South Americans will either face World Champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes – who they lost to here in pool play in three sets – or fellow Brazilians Rebecca and Ana Patricia.