April Ross is a model of consistency
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, February 16, 2021 - She began the decade
as reigning world champion and ends it with an Olympic silver
and bronze in her collection, as well as two silvers from FIVB
Beach Volleyball World Championships.
During that time she has been paired and enjoyed success with
four different partners, and with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
in the year ahead there is no reason to believe that she won’t
add more gloss to a career that has reaped medals galore.
At the moment Ross is well-on course for her third Olympic
Games. The 38-year-old and Alix Klineman are second in the
provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings.
The US pair have showed that they should be among the leading
sides at Tokyo 2020. In fact, after they teamed up at the start
of 2018, they did not hang around to lay down a marker of how
competitive they can be.
In their first tournament together, the Dela Beach Open in The
Hague, they won 10 consecutive matches to go from the country
quota round, through qualifying, into the main draw to the top
of the podium with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) victory over Brazil’s
Carolina Salgado and Maria Antonelli.
Klineman had previously played volleyball for the USA and she
made her FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour debut in The Hague.
Victory came under the guidance of coach Jennifer Kessy, who was
Ross’ partner when she won gold at the Stavanger 2009 FIVB Beach
Volleyball World Championships, and silver at the London 2012
“We have a great feeling and we’re all on the same page,” Ross
said after collecting her gold medal. “We all have the same
mentality, the same culture and same values.
“We have our new coach Jen Kessy, so we have this team unit. She
brings so much knowledge because she played so recently and for
so long and she has a really good head for the game.
“That matters so much when you’re on the court and you’re
playing so hard for each other. It is a really, really a special
feeling out there.”
After their initial success it took until the end of the year
before they found their way back on to the podium, however, when
they won gold at the Yangzhou 4-Star, as well as the North,
Central American and Caribbean (NORCECA) Championships.
In 2019 they really showed their prowess on the court. At the
Hamburg 2019 World Championships the pair won silver, Ross’
third World Championships medal after gold at Stavanger 2009 and
silver with Lauren Fendrick at Vienna 2017.
They added gold from the Gstaad 5-Star and Itapema 4-Star, as
well as silver from the Tokyo 4-Star.
While lockdown meant they have not been able to train or play to
the same extent, Ross did not let it affect her with her
Instagram videos of her training regime going viral.
Up and running
That Ross made such a strong start to life with Klineman should
come as no surprise.
She and Kessy almost made as fast a start when they teamed up,
and while they missed out on the podium in their first
tournament together they made up for it by winning gold in their
second, the 2007 Stavanger Grand Slam.
They certainly enjoyed playing in the Norwegian port and after
they won bronze there in 2008, a year on they were crowned world
It put them in the upper echelons of the beach volleyball world
and while they lost their world title at Rome 2011, come London
2012 it was only the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 champions
Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor who stopped them
leaving with gold.
By then Kessy was eyeing retirement and after promising to find
Ross the best partner she could she did not have to look far.
When Walsh-Jennings returned in 2013 following the birth of her
third child, Ross had found her new partner.
“I’m excited to be playing with Kerri,” Ross said. “Going
towards Rio we plan to be partners and go for Rio. We do not
plan to be together until maybe September or October, just to
get a little experience going into 2014.
“We’re 100 percent planning on it, Jen (Kessy) is in on it. It
was a collaborative thing and I wanted to make sure that Jen was
ok with it. It has been such a special partnership with Jen, I
didn’t want it to end badly in any way, so we all worked it
together and that is what we are all happy with.”
It was another strong start as Ross and Walsh-Jennings won gold
in their second and third World Tour tournaments in tandem at
the end of 2013, and then their first of 2014.
They won eight more World Tour golds on the way to the Rio de
Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games where reigning world champions Agatha
Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil stopped them in the
semifinals at Copacabana, but they recovered to beat Larissa
Franca and Talita Antunes to win bronze.
One more World Tour gold came their way before they split in
2017 and Ross was then in tandem with Fendrick for five
tournaments before the chance to partner Klineman came up.
They have not featured on the World Tour since September 2019,
but they did return to the sand in July and August and won three
tournaments from three on the US-based AVP Tour.
Ross also competed alongside Emily Day in the King of Beach
tournament in Utrecht in the Netherlands where they finished
It makes a change from earlier in the year when she built a
makeshift court in her garden and gym in her garage to make sure
that she is in the best condition possible for Tokyo 2020 and
when the World Tour resumes.
“As the postponement got closer it seemed inevitable, so I
wasn’t shocked when they made the announcement, but I was
hanging onto it,” Ross said at the time.
“I think it’s really important in these times to be able to go
with the flow and use them for what we can. I’m not panicked
about not being able to train or anything, just doing what I can
within the parameters that we’re at.”