Best Up-and-Coming Beach-Volleyball Player - 2009
The coolest thing about the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is the accessibility of its players. Even the biggest names hang out with the crowd, talk to fans and sign autographs. And all you need when you head out to watch a tournament is sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops. You can leave the wallet at home because the tournaments in California (except premiere seating at the featured matches) are free. And these days, you might get to meet a couple of local heroes-in-the-making. With Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh taking a year off following their gold-medal victory in Beijing, the AVP field opened up for USC graduate April Ross to shine. Ross, who grew up in Newport Beach, won her first AVP title May 15 in Houston alongside partner Jen Kessy. They grabbed their second title in Ocean City, Maryland, on June 21. At presstime, Kessy/Ross were second in winnings with $137,200 for 2009. Ross is ranked first in aces, averaging 1.31 per game.