A vital day of competition unfolded at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA, a Men's Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000-level event as top seeds decimated their debut, but it was also a crucial day of competition for the Vans Pro Junior. Quarterfinal affairs took to the water to see who would make their way into finals day and with waves still managing to come in despite the high tide, battles ensued.
An international field remains with Hawaii and Japan represented alongside a four-pack of San Clemente, California's, top-tier Pro Juniors with one lone East Coaster hoping to keep the title on his home coast.
San Clemente's Strength Continues to Shine
One of North America's deepest talent pools remain on a hot streak in 2019 with four of the eight Semifinalists belonging to its small town. Current North America No.1 Kade Matson, No. 2 Jett Schilling, No. 6 Crosby Colapinto (last year's No. 2 finisher), and No. 9 Taj Lindblad find themselves in the unique opportunity to all make the Final together with two in each Semifinal. For Matson, his back-to-back wins so far this season have him in a great position to stay on track for a WSL World Junior Championships qualification spot and continues to charge through events -- even in what used to be his weakness of small waves.
"I was really happy that we got some waves today after it's been really tough to the point of being hard to stand up for me so this was nice today," Matson said. "We have waves around home we can warm up on but Florida was a big win for me not being known as a small wave guy so that win has given me confidence throughout this year which led to the US Open win. It's cool to have all this momentum because I don't have a lot of pressure on me right now so I'm just feeling super comfortable and it's freeing up my surfing even more which helps a lot."
Tommy Coleman: The East Coast's Hope
The lone East Coaster Tommy Coleman left in the Pro Junior makes his second Semifinal appearance of the season as the Vans Pro Junior powered through Quarterfinal affairs. A big result here would help push Coleman closer to the Top 3 for a chance at making it to the coveted WSL World Junior Championships but the 17-year-old isn't getting ahead of himself with plenty of time left to prepare for his career.
"I lost earlier in the QS so I was bummed about that but it was tough out there even though the waves picked which was amazing," Colemand said. "Coming from Florida I'm used to this a lot and this is what I'll practice in the most. You just have to watch it for awhile and look for those little peaks down to the right. It feels great and getting set for one of my last years as a Pro Junior I want to make it to Worlds but I don't think about it to much and just go out to perform my best."
Brodi Sale and Miyu Furukawa Look For Upsets
This event provides the opportunity for out-of-region competitors to pull double duty and earn some extra prize money on the side, along with experience against their future competitors around the world. Sale and Furukawa can keep the title away from US soil once again with a victory after Mateus Herdy's and Cole Alves' wins in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
While they face a stacked San Clemente and East Coast contingent, both have the capabilities to pull major upsets and steal points from the regional contenders.
The Semifinals will coincide with the Vans Pro QS 3,000 finals day as both crown their respective victors by day's end.