If Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal are playing, you’ll find “Rosie’s Raiders” at courtside.
The AVP’s favorite entourage is a formidable heckling unit hailing from Hermosa Beach, Rosenthal’s hometown, which never hesitates to make its presence felt to any team playing across the net from their man. Local heroes Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser are no exception — in fact they probably get it worse than anyone else — but the Olympic gold medalists, in their ever-cool demeanor, have been able to turn the taunts into fuel.
Everything from Rogers’ facial hair to Dalhausser’s shorts were targets as the two teams faced off Saturday at the AVP Santa Barbara Open, but the top-seeded locals calmly responded with a 21-17, 21-17 victory which looked comfortable the whole way through.
“I like beating Rosie and Jake when the Raiders are here. It gives me a little extra motivation,” said Dalhausser. “They’re constantly chirping in my ear, and I know it just kills them when we beat them.”
Rogers and Dalhausser will play in the semifinals Sunday morning at 11:45 a.m. against either John Hyden/Sean Scott or Paul Baxter/Austin Rester.
No. 3 Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena await either Gibb/Rosenthal or Will Strickland/Aaron Wachtfogel in Sunday’s other semifinal.
In their first match of the day, Rogers/Dalhausser rolled through Pedro Brazao and Fred Souza, 21-14, 21-13. In their four matches this tournament, they have never allowed more than 17 points to a team, and Dalhausser admits he’s feeling great.
“I think I’m playing some pretty good ball, which I wasn’t expecting this early in the season. Hopefully it stays like this the rest of the year,” he said.
Those are words the rest of the teams on tour certainly don’t want to hear.
HANSON BOWS OUT: Former UCSB star Brooke Hanson and partner Lisa Rutledge, seeded seventh, finished ninth on Saturday after losing their second match of the tournament, a three-set decision to No. 4 Priscilla Lima and Tatiana Minello.
“The wind picked up a little bit and changed, and I don’t think we were prepared for that,” said Hanson. “They served tougher than us, and they won the long rallies.”
In their first match of the day, Hanson/Rutledge knocked out one of the best stories of the weekend, high-schoolers Jane Croson and Summer Ross. Croson, 16, is a star junior at Los Alamitos High while Ross, 17, plays at Carlsbad High. The duo was seeded 38th in the qualifier’s bracket but made it through to the main draw, winning a contender’s bracket matchup before losing out to Hanson/Rutledge for a 13th place finish.
Hanson’s old coach, UCSB’s Kathy Gregory, may be vacationing in Hawaii but she didn’t miss a beat of the final match. UCSB alum and longtime local coach Mike Maas was on the phone with Gregory throughout the 56-minute match, doing a play-by-play analysis of every touch.
“She wants me to win, and she was probably just as into it as anybody who was out here watching. She’s awesome,” said Hanson.
The team leaves for next week’s FIVB event in Shanghai on Sunday night.
DUST DOESN’T SETTLE: For the third day in a row, the wind whipped up sheets of dusty sand at West Beach. Unlike East Beach, the sand at West Beach is more shallow and also carries a considerable amount of debris such as sticks and small rocks. It hasn’t deterred the crowds, however, and Dalhausser isn’t letting it bother him too much.
“It’s not as good as East Beach, but if it means being able to have a tournament in Santa Barbara, I don’t mind,” he said.