Floridian Tanner Strohmenger boosting his way through to the Quarterfinals at the Fins Pro Junior in New Jersey.
Credit: DR STOCKDALE / EASTERN LINES
BELMAR, New Jersey / USA (Friday, September 16, 2011) – The opening day of the 2011 ASP 1-Star Fins Pro Junior, the first stop on the 2011-2012 ASP North America Pro Junior Season, kicked off in punchy two-to-three foot waves in Belmar New Jersey, allowing for a marathon day to narrow the field down from the opening Round of 72 to the event’s Quarterfinalists.
The Fins Pro Junior’s ASP 1-Star status allows up-and-coming talent the opportunity to establish themselves on the regional standings, to eventually qualify for the prestigious ASP World Junior Tour.
Christian Saenz (Huntington Beach, CA), 20, opened his Fins Pro Junior campaign in strong form, igniting the Belmar Beachbreak on his backhand while posting an 8.00 (out of 10), one of the day’s highest scores, to advance through to the Quarterfinals.
“I didn’t really know what I had and knew I needed a higher score,” Saenz said. “Everyone was too deep on that wave and I kind of got the corner. It just opened up and my first two turns were good and I did another two. It felt good to get in to another rhythm after that.”
Saenz, who was honing his heat strategy on the lefthanders, quickly adapted to the changing conditions and focused on the rights in his heat which offered better scoring potential.
“This wave changes a lot,” Saenz said. “I’ve been practicing going left in front of the scaffolding and then today was all rights, so you’ve got to be able to adapt out here. I feel comfortable on my fronthand and backhand and I’m psyched on the event.”
Evan Thompson (Jacksonville, FL), 19, who finished at No. 11 on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series to finish the season, will be competing in select ASP World Junior Tour events this year and is using the Fins Pro Junior to keep his competitive skills sharp before tackling elite international talent.
“This is my last year as a Junior and I signed up for this contest before I knew I could go to Bali and Brazil,” Thompson said. “I figured I’d come up because there are a string of East Coast events I’m going to do. I’m glad I came. There are waves and it’s fun and it is a confidence booster to make heats.”
Thompson, who is the top rated seed in the event, reveled in wedgy waves brought on by the onshore winds and hopes that similar conditions prevail through the remainder of the contest.
“It’s been offshore all day, but right before my heat today and yesterday it’s turned onshore and I hope it keeps sticking with me,” Thompson said. “I prefer the onshores when it’s small and closing out like this. There are still really fun waves with air sections.”
P.J. Raia (Monmouth Beach, NJ), 18, carried the torch for the local crowd today and entered his heat with a relaxed approach while posting some of the day’s top scores en route to his Quarterfinals berth.
“The waves looked kind of walled all day and I noticed there were some good rights so I figured I’d just go out there and have fun,” Raia said. “Whenever I make a plan in heats I end up doing really bad. I just go out and have fun and see what happens.”
Raia, who often competes in the major ASP Pro Junior contests on the West Coast, was enjoying the comforts of competing in an event close to his New Jersey home.
“I live 20 minutes north, it’s just a quick drive down Ocean Ave,” Raia said. “It’s great having an event this close to home. I’m used to the punchy beachbreak waves breaking off of the jetty and it’s just been fun to sleep in my own bed and have my friends stay at my house.”
For Fins Pro Junior daily updates log on to www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org.
Fins Pro Junior Quarterfinals heats will run tomorrow.
Upcoming Fins Pro Junior Quarterfinals Heats:
QF 1: Evan Thompson (USA), Joe Diamond (USA), Tanner Strohmenger (USA), Taylor Clark (USA)
QF 2: Christian Saenz (USA), Tommy Lhnken (USA), Jacob Davis (USA), Matty Lewis (USA)
QF 3: Trevor Thornton (USA), Jake Kelley (USA), Parker Coffin (USA), Nic Hdez (USA)
QF 4: P.J. Raia (USA), Cole Richards (USA), Colin Moran (USA), Nathan Behl (USA)