- WSL / Ethan Smith
- WSL / Ethan Smith

The final event on the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS), the Hydralyte Sports Surf Series presented by Billabong got off to a flying start in punchy one-foot surf today 2018 series leaders Callum Robson (Evans Head, NSW) and Zahli Kelly (Cabarita, NSW) claim impressive first-round wins

The final event on the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS), the Hydralyte Sports Surf Series presented by Billabong got off to a flying start in punchy one-foot surf today, as competitors strived to earn valuable rankings point and earn a spot into the final day of competition.

Currently leading the Girl's WSL JQS rankings, Zahli Kelly (Cabarita, NSW) managed to go one step closer to claiming the 2018 Australasian title, taking out her opening exchange. Kelly used her backhand repertoire to positive effect in the round one heat, nailing a near-perfect 9.00 wave score to leave her fellow competitors requiring two-wave combinations to take away her lead.

"The waves were pretty slow, so I knew you had to make the most of the ones you caught," said Kelly. "The lefthanders definitely had more scoring potential with the incoming tide so I opted to stick to them. I really want to make sure I can finish the series with another good result and carry that momentum onto the Qualifying Series."

After taking out the recent Skullcandy Oz Grom Open pres. by Vissla, Nyxie Ryan (Lennox Head, NSW) showed she was keen to mirror the result for the second time, nailing her round one heat. Ryan kicked off her campaign with a bang, posting a respectable 13.20 two-wave heat total (out of a possible 20 points) to gain the upper hand against her opposition.

"I was so stoked to take out the last Pro Junior event at home, and I really want to back it up with another good result," said Ryan. "This is my first year where I've begun to do a few Pro Junior events and I've been learning a lot along the way. Hopefully, I can keep the ball rolling in round two tomorrow."

Northern Beaches sisters Bodhi and Cedar Leigh-Jones (Avalon, NSW) came head-to-head in their round one Girls heat with both sisters eager to seal themselves a spot into round two. Bodhi, managed to gain the edge in the heat, nailing an excellent 16.00 two-wave heat total to leave her younger sister in the runner-up spot.

"We've had a few heats together over the years and it's always a bit daunting because I know if she beats me, then I will cop flack off everyone," said Bodhi. "Surfing a heat with my sister definitely pushes me a lot more."

Callum Robson (Evans Head, NSW) looks set to hold down the top spot on the JQS rankings for another day, moving through the first day of competition. Robson nailed two excellent scoring waves in the eight-point range to put his fellow competitors on the ropes and make his intentions clear that he was chasing the overall title.

"The waves a pretty slow out there, so it's a huge relief to get round one out of the way," said Robson. "My whole goal has always to be to just qualify for the World Juniors, not so much the overall title, so I'm just trying to take the whole thing heat-by-heat and not get too worried about anything else."

After only beginning to do the JQS last year and claiming a runner-up finish on the Central Coast, Alister Reginato (Sunshine Coast, Qld) showed he had a solid place in the junior ranks, nailing the punchy conditions with flair and style. Reginato executed an eclectic mix of backhand maneuvers in the heat to post a decent 15.80 two-wave heat total in the exciting battle.

"That heat was always going to be a tough one, but I'm stoked to have taken it out," said Reginato. "I only started doing the JQS last year and I, fortunately, got a second place finish in the junior event at Avoca, so I'd love to go that one step further and win one. The waves are definitely tricky, but still fun if you found the right one."

The Cronulla stop at the Hydralyte Sports Surf Series presented by Billabong will determine the qualifiers for the upcoming World Junior Championship and crown the champions of the 2018 series.

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