2017-05-11 17:53:00 CEST
We spoke to Kerri Walsh as she faces up to the prospect of finding a new partner after splitting from April Ross
Beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings is on her way to the Poreč Major – all she needs is a partner!
The three-time Olympic gold medal hero announced her decision to split with teammate April Ross having turned down a four-year contract with the AVP.
It is a decision that has left the 38-year-old “partnerless” and now the race is on to find the American a teammate in time to make her first ever appearance at the Croatia hotspot, which will be floodlit for the first time this summer.
“I’m solo but I’m free for whoever wants to take a risk on me,” Kerri told us. “I need to sign up for Poreč by May 21, but I’m going – I have no doubt about that. You better believe it.”
Precisely who Kerri will partner in Poreč remains a mystery – but one thing’s for sure, it won’t be former teammate Misty May Treanor (and yes of course we asked this question!)
“No, Misty’s happy where’s she at,” laughs Kerri. “She’s coaching and living the dream – but it would be amazing to play with her again.
“I have a shortlist, though, and I’m looking at two players who are pretty well-known and amazing in defence. I always say it’s the defenders that help win championships. They also need heart and these two players have that. There is a third, who is a little outside of the box, but to me it makes total sense.
“It’s not been comfortable and it’s hard because I knew making this decision would affect my partner situation and leave me in limbo, but it’s better being in limbo than being tied down to something which restricts you.”
But how can playing with arguably the biggest name in beach volleyball be risky?
“Well I am a handful, just ask April!” jokes Kerri. “I expect to win, I work hard and I have high expectations. I know I’m a lot, but I’m also loving and relentless. I just want a partner that believes in me and somebody who is willing to stand up for what I believe in.
“It’s a risk but I feel it’s just a conversation. I’ll explain my feelings and if it resonates and if the values and goals are similar then we’ll do it.
“Listen, I’m 38 and if people think I’m old and washed up, I’m not! I come with a lot of good things and I come with a lot of heavy things… but heavy things in life can be good for you.
“At the moment I have an amazing coaching staff and I’m not afraid of playing against the boys. We had Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst over in California for two weeks so training with them was awesome. All I wanted to do was to beat them!
“At the moment I’m making it work. I’ll admit it’s a bit lonely at times and my heart breaks a little every day, but every day it grows back stronger.”
Kerri, who won bronze at the Rio Olympics last summer with Ross, believes that beach volleyball’s potential can make the sport an even greater success – but only if players, organizers and federations are on the same page.
“Swatch Major Series tournaments are big and beautiful events that create so much excitement. The athletes get it,” she says.
“But the players need to realize they are not alone. There’s a vision for a reason – there’s a demand. If we can stick together, we know there’s much better value by working together. It’s about maintaining integrity. I’ll still be strong – I’ve been a part of a lot change over the past 16 years of the beach volleyball landscape. I have seen the power. In America, the game is changing, we can be as big as the NFL and Major League Baseball, there is so much love for our sport – there’s no limit.
“And it’s important to support people who back the sport. It has so much to offer on a global level: sport, lifestyle, the beach, the athletes – and it’s sexy. It’s everything you want in life in one product.”
We can’t help but agree with you Kerri! See you in Poreč!
Kerri Walsh Jennings on Twitter
I've never been & I CAN NOT WAIT to get to @SwatchMajors #PorecMajor ☀️🙌🇺🇸🏐😎 I've only heard AMAZING things! https://t.co/YHwZBPhdq5
Thank you from the heart!
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