April Ross, left, and Kerri Walsh Jennings (Courtesy of FIVB)
By Seth Rubinroit
During the 2012 Olympic final in London, Kerri Walsh Jennings knew she needed a new parter with Misty May-Treanor retiring.
It turns out the perfect candidate was staring at her from across the net.
Not long after Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor defeated Jen Kessy and April Ross to win their third Olympic gold medal together, Walsh Jennings decided to team with Ross, her longtime rival.
Ross and Walsh Jennings quickly developed chemistry, winning the final two FIVB Grand Slams of 2013.
Ross spoke with universalsports.com at Sports Spectacular, a charity event that raised money to combat diabetes and obesity.
Universal Sports: How has it been partnering with Kerri Walsh Jennings?
April Ross: It’s going great. We weren’t really that close before we started playing together; it was always just [talking] across the net. I didn’t know what it was going to be like personality-wise, and how we would look at competing. We found that we’re very similar because our will to win is super high. We’re very competitive and accountable for ourselves, which makes it really easy to form a new partnership when you’re not always trying to blame the other person. So it’s been, I think, as smooth as it could possibly be.
USN: What has been the biggest adjustment on the sand?
Ross: The biggest adjustment is that Kerri moved from the left side to the right side of the court. If you don’t play beach volleyball, maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal. I think it would be equivalent of a quarterback moving to wide receiver in the pros. It’s learning a completely new position. We’re still working on that right now, and there’s been some up and downs. It takes so much courage for her to do that, and it’s just really exciting for us as a team to have this new look. That’s for sure the most challenging thing.
USN: How much time to you spend together off the court?
Ross: We are together 24/7 when we travel. We’re very focused, and we’ve gone to China three times together. Honestly, there’s not that much to do in China where we are, so we kinda just hang out in the room. We went to Brazil once and we went out and had Brazilian barbecue and went shopping. We definitely hang out more on the road because she has such a big family that she has to take care of, so she’s always doing that at home. But we spend a lot of quality time on the road.
USN: What’s one thing about Kerri that nobody else would know?
Ross: I can’t throw her under the bus for this because I do the same thing, but when she gets mad at herself she’ll cuss. She’ll even cuss at herself. But I do the exact same thing, and our coach is trying to get us to stop. We take being role models very seriously, so to cuss when you’re mad at yourself is not good, so we’re trying to stop it.
USN: Where is your favorite place to go to on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour?
Ross: I love Berlin. I’ve never won in Berlin, and that would be great. I’ve had success in Stavanger, Norway, and they just added it back on to the schedule this year, so I’m really excited to go back there.