Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy were defeated by Manly’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Nikki Laird during the National Beach Volleyball round on Sunday, February 2.
It took three nail-biting sets for the upset to unfold, with Artacho del Solar and Laird coming from one set down to win 17-21, 21-18, 15-13.
Earlier in the day men’s top seeds Chris McHugh and Isaac Kapa bounced back to winning form, beating internationals Bo Soderberg from Denmark and Dutchman Michiel Van Dorsten.
But there were worrying signs again for the Australians, after they dropped the opening set 18-21 before bouncing back 21-18, 15-6.
Last week the Australians lost twice in one day, their first defeat in Australia since coming together in late 2012, and failed to make the final.
For Artacho del Solar and Laird, the win turned around what has been a poor start to the summer by the Australian under-23 champions. They fell at the |quarter-final stage at the Glenelg and Surfers Paradise rounds, but cruised through a tough pool group undefeated before upstaging the Australians.
Bawden and Clancy had also not been beaten on Australian sand since forming after the London Olympics.
Peru-born Artacho del Solar was told by coaches she was too short to ever make it as a top-class player and has spent the two years since trying to prove them wrong. The win was also emotional for Laird, who suffered a serious knee injury on last year’s Renault tour.
‘We’ve had a bit of a change of environment and a new coach,’ she said.
‘We’ve been working really hard on our ball control, which |helped us in the windy conditions.’
The National Beach Volleyball tour now heads to St Kilda Beach in Melbourne this weekend.