Mann and Glagau have double the fun at OVA Beach Ontario Championships
By DAVID WINER
Ava Mann and Kaylee Glagau’s summer has been one for the ages – and then some.
Not only did the Pakmen duo escape the summer heat with gold at the 16U OVA Beach Ontario Championships, they returned to Toronto’s Ashbridges Bay a week later (August 11-12) to win the 18U crown as well.
Sensational results for a couple of 16-year-olds moving up two age groups. And especially impressive considering Mann and Glagau had never stepped up to the top of the podium in the past.
“This is the first time we have won a Provincial championship,” said Mann. “We didn’t play last year (instead choosing to compete in California), while the year before we came third before coming back a few weeks later and winning Nationals.”
Beyond the obvious talent the two indoor teammates possess, Mann and Glagau cite experience as the secret to their success.
“The fact that Ava and I have been partners for four years and have not played with anyone else seriously, makes us a really strong and tough team to play against,” said Glagau. “It’s given us time to understand each other more and know each other’s tendencies, which ultimately, makes us a tougher team to play against, because it is harder to separate us on and off the court.”
“The secret to our success is that we are best friends on the court and off,” added the 5-foot-10 Mann, who played left side for the indoor champion 17U Pakmen. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And, since we have been partners for so long, we can communicate verbally and non verbally and always know where each other is and what each other is going to do.”
Those strengths were never more pronounced than in the 18U final against Dana Roskic and Vanessa Roscoe from Halton.
After defeating Chloe Shum and Vivian Zanutel in the quarters 21-16, 22-20 and Jillian Gleason and Rebecca Dorsey of Halton in the semi-finals, 27-25, 21-18, Mann and Glagau found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being down a set.
However, after losing the opener 21-17 to Roscoe and Roskic, the Pakmen duo fought back for a hard earned 21-19, 17-15 victory.
“We went (into the tournament) with no expectations hoping to play competitively, and everything aligned,” said Mann, a student at Burlington’s Dr. Frank J Hayden Secondary School. “(And) we ended up winning all our sets except for one. In the third set of the final we were down most of the time, but we decided we had nothing to lose and we ended up winning it 17-15.”
“I usually do not get nervous for games,” said the 6-foot-2 Glagau, who attends Streetsville Secondary School in Mississauga. “But during the finals, I was really nervous, specifically remembering that Ava and I have lost to our opponents when they were playing with other partners. The finals in the 18U division was the toughest match, not only because we lost the first set and had to fight in the second and third, but because we were down in the third set 13-9 and they had us at match point at 14-12 too. To be honest, I did not think we were going to come out on top when down by those scores, but we did.
“Ava and I went into the tournament ranked first, but I don’t think either of us thought we were going to win,” added Glagau, a right side on the same Pakmen squad that won Provincials and placed fifth at Nationals. “But we knew we could compete with the real 18U girls if we played our game. And, we were really excited to play because the week before wasn’t too challenging and to push ourselves in 18U was something we were looking forward to.
“Ava and I are both really driven; you can find us on the court 5-6 times a week during the season and 2-3 times a week in the gym. Ava is a really good listener, which makes it easy for us to stay connected, and it’s also one of the main reasons why we are best friends. I am very dedicated to improving my game and getting stronger and faster. We both push each other to be better and to be connected all the time.”
While the 16U Provincials didn’t provide much of a challenge the previous week, the tournament wasn’t without its hectic moments.
Between defeating Brielle Chicoine and Lauren Jeanneault 21-11, 21-12 in the quarters and Sara Wynia and Mary Riofloridio 21-3, 21-9 in the final, Mann and Glagau had to settle their nerves for a semi-final tussle against Glagau’s little sister Emma and her partner Kat Georgiadis.
“Emma is three years younger than me, which just added to my nerves,” said Glagau. “Off the court before the game, I have never been more nervous for a game. Imagine losing to your younger sister. But thinking about losing to my sister during the game would not have been a good mentality to take going, so I chose to just step up my game and communicate with Ava a lot more than usual. My mom and dad were there and they cheered for both of us.”
Regardless of the concerns, Glagau and Mann prevailed 21-10, 21-7.