03/29 12:29 CDT No commitment (yet) from Walsh Jennings for 2017 AVP tour
No commitment (yet) from Walsh Jennings for 2017 AVP tour
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
Five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings has not yet committed to play in AVP
events this summer, leading the domestic beach volleyball tour to announce its
2017 schedule without including the game's top draw among "the most respected
names in the sport" who are expected to participate.
"We're in contract negotiations and we're pretty far off right now," Walsh
Jennings said in a text message to The Associated Press. "We are working toward
a win-win for everyone & the sport."
A three-time gold medalist who won the bronze medal with partner April Ross at
the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Walsh Jennings also has been an advocate
for athletes' rights in the national governing body and the domestic tour. Last
summer, she boycotted the season-ending event in Chicago over rule changes she
said were made without consulting the athletes.
Her absence would be a blow to a tour that has struggled to capitalize on the
Olympic spotlight in the years between Summer Games. Walsh Jennings called the
negotiations "a work in progress."
Established in 1983, the AVP tour will begin in Huntington Beach, California,
in May this year and end on Labor Day weekend in Chicago. It will include
Manhattan Beach, California, where past winners have their name added to the
Volleyball Walk of Fame.
It will also include less traditional beach volleyball markets such as Seattle
and New York. The tour also returns to Hermosa Beach, California, for the first
time since 2010 and to Austin, Texas, for the first time since 2005.
The featured names in the announcement include Ross and fellow Olympians Phil
Dalhausser, Xi Zhang and Jake Gibbs. Asked why Walsh Jennings wasn't listed
among them --- she is included in a section on the tour's history --- AVP owner
Donald Sun told the AP that "the athlete schedules are always in flux."
"Until they register, especially in a non-Olympic year, it is hard to say right
now who is playing which events specifically," he said. "All athletes are
welcome and can be a part of the business we are growing, and we are looking
forward to a great summer."
Walsh Jennings has three children and has said she wants more. Asked if she
would be skipping the tour to retire, boycott or have another baby, Walsh
Jennings said "None of the above" and reaffirmed her plans to compete in the
2020 Olympics, when she would turn 42.
"I'm planning on playing through Tokyo," she wrote. "Finish with a win there
and see what's next."