Hendrickson primed for an unlikely run

A single result can change everything if it comes at the right moment. Stringing together one good week, coming up with one good heat, manufacturing one good score can be the difference in an honorable mention season and a spot on the WSL Championship Tour.

Maui’s Tanner Hendrickson put together such a result on Sunday, making his way through a loaded field at the US Open of Surfing and finding himself in the final. These QS 10,000 contests can change careers if a surfer can get hot. Hendrickson’s performance can certainly be categorized in such a way as he eliminated a veritable who’s who throughout the event. Luke Davis, Jesse Mendes, Dane Reynolds, Josh Moniz, Dion Atkinson, Billy Stairmand, Kolohe Andino and Filipe Toledo all saw their events come to a close in Hendrickson heats.

Only Japan’s Hiroto Ohhara managed to outperform Hendrickson, winning the event title with a 14.50 to 12.90 final heat score. Ohhara has never come close to such a result and his jump in the Qualifying Series rankings bumped him up all the way from 81st place to 13th after those 10,000 points reached his account.

Hendrickson made the week’s second-largest jump, improving 37 spots from 51st to 14th, just one notch behind Ohhara. He was already having his best year on the QS circuit, but Hendrickson now finds himself in a position to be a player in the race for the top 10. With two or three of the surfers currently ahead of him – Toledo, Andino, Jeremy Flores – likely to re-qualify with their world tour standings, Hendrickson is almost sitting on the imaginary cut line right now.

For some perspective, Hendrickson’s first time in the top 100 on the QS was last year’s 92nd place finish. To leap from that mark into the top 10 and a spot on the 2016 world tour would be a remarkable feat and one that is now very much in play.

He moved himself toward the top 50 this season with a 17th place at the Lowers Pro, but nothing has compared to the 8,000 points he just accumulated carving through the Huntington field. He began to show signs toward the back end of last season, reaching the quarterfinals at the 6-Star Santa Catarina Pro, losing to eventual champ Michael Rodrigues. He then made the semifinals at the HIC Pro, which was won by Danny Fuller.

So the writing was on the wall that Hendrickson could become a factor on the national scene after a few years carving up local waves. He’s now taken full advantage of the current weighted system and propelled himself to the outskirts of the elite tour by stringing together that one good week.

It’s a very crowded crew all fighting for a few spots and there are chances for everyone with big events still on the schedule. Hendrickson has to continue acquiring keeper results and knock a few of his throwaways from his current resume. It’s been a fast ascension but there is still plenty of work to be done.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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