Newswhite buffalo HYUGA PROZahli Kelly

Quarterfinalists Deteremined for White Buffalo HYUGA Pro

Women's Round 2 and 3 of the White Buffalo HYUGA Pro completed in contestable surf at Okuragahama Beach for Day 3 of the WSL QS 3,000 event. Only eight athletes remain as the competition was narrowed down to Quarterfinalists, with top-ranked QS surfers, Alyssa Spencer and Amuro Tsuzuki, still in contention.

Local girl and CT hopeful Tsuzuki had a strong performance in her Round 2 heat and brought that momentum into Round 3, where she improved even further with an excellent 8.60 (out of a possible 10) to take the lead from Dimity Stoyle (AUS).

Stormy weather forced a hold on the heat, however, did not threaten Tsuzuki's confidence. It was kind of tricky to have rain and bad weather stop my heat," she said. "My first and second wave score was good enough to feel comfortable until we start again. I'm just hoping to get better results in each heat."

White Buffalo HYUGA Pro Women's QS 3,000 Local hero, Tsuzuki has momentum and confidence after an impressive win at the QS 10,000 in September. WSL / Kawana

In September, Tsuzuki became the second Japanese surfer in history to win a QS 10,000 after taking down a world-class field in Spain at the ABANCA Galicia Classic Surf Pro. This vaulted her from No. 56 on the rankings to within the top ten and now in CT qualification contention, especially with a win at the White Buffalo HYUGA Pro.

Spencer, an event standout since Day 1 and current No. 7 on the QS rankings, earned an 8.00 in her Round 2 heat with powerful backhand surfing. A goofy-footer from Carlsbad, California, Spencer has been competing on the QS for five years and also remains a Pro Junior challenger at just 16-years-old.

White Buffalo HYUGA Pro Women's QS 3,000 Spencer continues to shine at the Japanese beach break, using her backhand to her advantage. WSL / Kawana

"I surf a lot of beach breaks at home, but my backhand is definitely I feel like my strong point. I got lucky to pick up the 8 point ride," Spencer said post-heat. "There are some really fun rights out there. It's actually pretty challenging, there were lots of waves breaking everywhere and it's hard to pick out the good ones."

She and Stoyle will matchup in Quarterfinal 3 once competition resumes, and with only five Women's QS events left in 2019, Spencer will be laser-focused on CT qualification.

Vahine Fierro gained the highest score of the day and event, a near-perfect 9.33, in Round 3 to lock in a slot in Quarterfinal 1 against Zahli Kelly. A representative of France but Tahitian by blood, Fierro began full-time work on the QS in 2017 and simultaneously became the World Junior Champion. Since then, she has collected a QS win in Hawaii and a Pro Junior victory on home turf in Tahiti, plus multiple podium appearances.

"I was lucky I got that wave under priority and was able to find two good sections to hit," said Fierro. "It feels great to get a big score. It gives me more confidence and looking forward to what tomorrow brings. Japan, it can be huge, it can be small so I was just expecting whatever is coming. I'm enjoying Japan, I'm with my friends and we're having a good time."

White Buffalo HYUGA Pro Women's QS 3,000 Australia's Kelly worked the challenging lineup to turn in a handful of good wave scores, including a 7.17 in Round 2. WSL / Kawana

Kelly, ranked No. 13 on the QS, has been busy for the past four years with sights set on joining the elite. Her best professional results include back-to-back wins in 2018 at the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro and Pro Anglet pres by Oakley and a first place at the 2018 Hydralyte Sports Pro Junior Bells Beach.

Today, the Australian junior posted a commanding 13.34 (out of a possible 20) combined heat total in Round 2 and a 10.70 in Round 3 thanks to technical surfing. En route to a Quarterfinal berth, Kelly eliminated Japanese representative Julie Nishimoto and event standout Chelsea Tuach.

The waves were fun, similar to the waves back home," said Kelly. "I'm happy to surf out here again."

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