Keanu Asing has always felt like the underdog.
Working his way through the junior ranks, up through his first full-time go on the Qualifying Series and finally onto the Championship Tour, the diminutive Asing seems to have consistently possessed a “me against the world” attitude.
It has served him well to this point, with success all along the way. He managed to qualify for the CT in 2015 and despite having mostly insignificant results last year, Asing managed to take first place at the Quiksilver Pro France.
But even with that event win, Asing fell off the tour, finishing in 24th place during his 2016 sophomore season. He actually became the first competitor not to re-qualify after having won a contest in the same year.
Now, the task is to reclaim a spot on the CT and Asing is certainly taking it seriously.
He improved his chances with a win on Sunday at the QS 3,000 Vans Pro in Virginia Beach. It marks Asing’s third QS win of 2017 and moves him into eighth place on the QS rankings. He also took down the Barbados Surf Pro in April and the Komunity Projects Great Lakes Pro to start the season in February.
Sunday’s final heat was loaded and required Asing’s best work to earn the top prize. He ended up outpointing Patrick Gudauskas, Evan Geiselman and Kanoa Igarashi for the 3,000 rankings points and $12,000 check. All three are former Vans Pro champs, with Geiselman having won it just last year.
Asing had started the event hot, putting up the highest heat total of round four and the second-highest of round five. Things got tougher in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, but Asing stayed alive with second-place results in each.
His title performance in the final included a 9.00 on his second wave, the only excellent score of the heat.
As is always the case, the QS field is incredibly crowded at the moment. Though Asing moves into eighth place (11,750 points), Hiroto Ohhara is just 220 points behind in the 10th-place cutoff position. Everyone ranked 22nd and higher has at least 8,000 points, so a single result at a high-value contest can propel any of them into the top 10.
But for now, Asing is defying the odds once again. One of the toughest things to do in sports is to repeat an achievement. Not only is Asing trying to do that with his re-qualification bid, but he has to run the entire gauntlet again and outpace just about everyone else who hopes to achieve the same goal. He’s done extremely well at these mid-value contests, but one or two finals day showings at a major event would go a long way in his quest.
Asing has that chance right now, stepping up into the QS 6,000 Pantin Classic Galicia Pro in Galicia, Spain. With a bye into the third round, he awaits two more opponents to reach him at that point before eyeing another deep run.
The women’s event at the same site is also a star-studded one, with Tatiana Weston-Webb, Coco Ho, Mahina Maeda, Zoe McDougall, Alessa Quizon and Brisa Hennessy completing a strong Hawaii wahine contingent. All are into the second round of four-woman heats at the QS 6,000 contest.
Nothing has ever come easily for Asing, but he can make things just a bit easier on himself with another big showing this week.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.