Pic by Owen Hammond/APAC Sport Media
A strong return from injury for one of Australia’s top ranked players was one of the highlights on the opening day of the Australian beach volleyball Tour Finals at Sydney’s Manly Beach on Friday.
All of Australia’s top-ranked teams emerged unscathed after a full day of play, but it was the return from injury of Isaac Kapa that was the standout moment.
Kapa has not played since before the Rio Olympics, undergoing a hip operation that has kept him sidelined until this weekend.
Kapa had partnered with South Australia’s Chris McHugh for the four years leading up to the Rio Olympics, but the Australians fell just short of qualifying for the Games.
In his absence McHugh has partnered Victoria’s Damien Schumann, winning the FIVB World Tour event in Shepparton and the Four Nation Cup at Manly.
Kapa has teamed up with Tim Dickson this weekend, winning both their opening matches on Friday, including withstanding a three-set thriller against Americans’ David McKenzie and Ian Statterfield.
McHugh and Schumann also won both their matches, as did women’s top teams, Louise Bawden and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Nikki Laird and Phoebe Bell, and Becchara Palmer and Jessyka Ngauamo.
There was a late scare for men’s team Cole Durant and Zachery Schubert, losing the opening set to Gareth Mann and David Stubbersfield before fighting back to win in three sets.