Honolua Bay, Maui – After fighting her way back from a first round loss early Sunday morning, Keala Kennelly went on to win both her second and third round matches to advance at the Billabong Pro Maui.
The Hawaiian faced her greatest challenge against defending two-time consecutive Billabong Pro Maui champion Neridah Falconer (Aus) in their clash, and while it was extremely close, the 24-year-old kept her chances alive with a series of critical backhand re-entries.
“Super close and super tough,” admitted Kennelly afterward. “I was nervous going into it just knowing how good Neridah is out here, especially with her track record. It’s kind of like her pet event, but I was lucky with the priority.
“I hate losing in front of my dad too, so that was motivation just there,” she added, since her father was on the headland watching. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself, so we’ll see what happens. Anything is possible.”
Fellow Kauaian Rochelle Ballard dominated both her heats as well, yesterday.
Against Serena Brooke (Aus) in their third round decider, the Hawaiian waited at the start as her opponent took the lead, but patience paid off for the 31-year-old with an incredible double-barrel ride on her first wave, scoring the best single score of the tournament for a near-perfect 9.8. Combined with another 7.75 ride, her two-wave tally of 17.55-points was the highest of the day. Despite suffering strained quad muscles in her right leg, she dominated the 35-minute exchange, with the loss further equating in Brooke’s failure to re-qualify for the 2003 WCT ranks.
The final event on the 2002 women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) commenced this morning with the Vespa Trials, in which Christian (USA) secured her position into the proceeding main event. The $60,000 tournament will decide the 2002 world champion on the next and final day of competition, as well as the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion.
Clean 3-4 ft (1-1.3m) surf was on offer at the idyllic location of Honolua Bay throughout the day. Organizers utilized conditions to run as far as the fourth third round heat.
Billabong Pro Maui
n Keala Kennelly (Haw) 14.74 defeated Neridah Falconer (Aus) 14.4
n Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 17.55 defeated Serena Brooke (Aus) 12.25
n Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 15.75 defeated Samantha Cornish (Aus) 15.65
n Julia Christian (USA) 14.0 defeated Layne Beachley (Aus) 13.3
Upcoming round three heats
n Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) vs. Pauline Menczer (Aus)
n Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) vs. Megan Abubo (Haw)
n Heather Clark (SAfr) vs. Maria Tavares (Brz)
n Lynette MacKenzie (Aus) vs. Amee Donohoe (Aus)Ballard and Kennelly move on at Billabong Pro Maui