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Opportunity's Knocking at the RVCA Pro Junior

The history of Newport Beach's esteemed Surf Championships runs deep into mainline of 54th and 56th Street Jetty dating back twenty-nine years. But, since 2015, it's also played host to some of North America's top up-and-coming talents for the Men and Women's RVCA Pro Junior pres. by Jack's Surfboards and Banzai Bowls. 56th Street Jetty will once again showcase those surfers, both men and women for the first time since its inception, September 21 - 23 and provide a vital backdrop to their respective seasons.

For the first time in its illustrious history, RVCA led the way as the main sponsor of the inaugural RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards at the 56th Street Jetty in Newport Beach, CA. Two days of high-performance surfing from some of the best talent under 20 years old in fun conditions and you're left with a great contest. WSL/ Isaacs The scaffolding returns to 56th Street Jetty Friday, September 21. WSL / Isaacs

It's an opportunity for someone to try and break away from the pack among the men's Top 4, but also provides a chance for some to catapult themselves into the World Junior Championship conversation.

Meanwhile, Kirra Pinkerton has a firm grip over the No. 1 spot on the women's regional rankings though the battle for second is far from done with hardly nothing separating a handful of competitors.

Finish Line Draws Near for Women's No. 2

Kirra Pinkerton (USA) during Round 3 of Pro Anglet 2018 presented by Oakley With Kirra Pinketon's in-form season, it's now a battle for the opening slot into the World Junior Championship. WSL / Damien Poullenot

The women haven't had the shot at 56th Street Jetty just yet in competition and are a welcome addition to help add even more of a chase toward the Top 2. Pinkerton's dominant, 1,265 point lead has her all but locked into a World Junior Championship qualification spot and only leaves one slot to fight for. Current No. 2 Samantha Sibley is joined by the likes of Eva Woodland, Kayla Coscino, and Tiare Thompson -- each of whom have earned a Finals appearance this season -- as the current top contenders for that position.

"I am so happy and excited for the new opportunities for women in surfing," Sibley said. "I'm so thankful to RVCA for adding a women's event. It's so cool we get another opportunity to surf this year."

It's been a tough go for reigning North America Regional Champion Alyssa Spencer, fracturing her fibula before the Los Cabos Open of Surf and falling short of a Semi spot at the Vans US Open.

Eva Woodland (CRI) advances to the Quarterfinals of the 2918 Junior Women's VANS US Open of Surfing after placing second in Heat 1 of Round 1 at Huntington Beach, CA, USA. Amid Sibley's No. 2 position, Eva Woodland has her chance to strike on her forehand in Newport sitting at No. 4. WSL / Sean Rowland

Sibley has done well to claw her way into the Top 2 for the time being and has an opportunity to capitalize on Spencer's absence once more in Newport. But, only 100 points separate that No. 2 spot from No. 7 ranked Valentina Resano and a slight hiccup could prove the difference.

Tyler Gunter Heads Home Sitting at No. 1

Tyler Gunter (USA) winning his Round 2 heat at the RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards. Gunter, right at home during his 2016 victory and a result he's looking to replicate WSL / Andrew Nichols

The City of Newport Beach Surf Championships and RVCA Pro Junior hold a special place in Gunter's memory not only being his home break, but the Pro Junior marked his first-ever WSL win in 2016 -- nearly going back-to-back in his runner-up finish last season. This is the 18-year-old's first time sitting atop the Pro Junior regional rankings and has a big opportunity to capitalize on pulling away from the pack with a similar result.

"This event means everything to me," Gunter said. "I've grown up watching this event [Newport Beach Surf Championships] and surfing in it since I was like 6 years old. I have been waiting all year for this event [RVCA Pro Junior] and can't wait to give it everything I have to try and win."

Battle for the Top 4 Recommences

Kade Matson (USA) winning his Round Three heat at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro. Kade Matson still holds ground at No. 4 and his backhand attack may be a healthy factor to hold that spot at the righthand jetty break. WSL / John Ferguson

Following the Vans Pro Junior, a slight shakeup pushed the Top 3 down one as Gunter made his move to the top, but all four remain in the hunt with the field still chasing them. Crosby Colapinto, Eithan Osborne, and Kade Matson each have their shot at cementing themselves in those positions with a result in Newport. Each fell shy of finals day in Virginia Beach and kept the door open to No. 5 Bo Raynor all the way to No. 14 Laird Myers, numerically, with a chance for any of them to strike.

Only Osborne among the Top 4 will miss the RVCA Pro Junior and must put everything into the Live Like Zander Junior Pro to cap off the season, but remains in a good position, only dropping 280 points, heading there. However, he will have to fend off a hungry field to do so as the season comes down to wire.

The Men and Women's RVCA Pro Junior pres. by Jack's Surfboards and Banzai Bowls will run September 21 - 23, at 56th Street Jetty in Newport Beach, California.

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