Kerri Walsh Jennings (left) and April Ross "surprised" Beach Volleyball followers in returning in 2017.
Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 13, 2017 - Watching April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings was a pleasant surprise for fans at the Fort Lauderdale Major.
At the 2016 World Tour Finals, Ross told the media that she was likely going to miss the 2017 season while trying to get pregnant. But after a couple of weeks, she changed her mind.
“I thought I was going to be ready to stop and work on having a family, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t ready to stop,” Ross said.
Starting a family is still very much a priority for Ross, 34. She is now hoping to get pregnant after the 2017 season, and sit out in 2018.
2018 is the only year in the upcoming quadrennial without a major global championship. World Championships will take place in 2017 and 2019, and 2020 is an Olympic year.
“It aligns perfectly that way,” Ross said.
Their short-term focus is on the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, which will begin July 28 in Vienna, Austria. Ross was the world champion in 2009 with Jennifer Kessy; Walsh Jennings won the three previous titles with Misty May-Treanor.
“It’s the biggest event of the year,” Walsh Jennings said. “That is the goal for the year, but we want to win a lot before that, and a lot after that.”
Their long-term focus is on the 2020 Olympics. Both reiterated that they are committed to attempting to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Walsh Jennings, who is trying for a sixth Olympics at age 41, believes 2020 will be her final season.
“In my head, I’m thinking I’ve got four years, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it,” Walsh Jennings said. “And if that changes, it changes, and if it doesn’t, yay.”
Ross and Walsh Jennings competed at the season-opening Fort Lauderdale Major. They finished fifth, falling to Brazil’s Agatha/Duda, who went on to claim the silver medal.
“It felt like we picked up right where we left off,” Ross said.