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A Win With Meaning for Ayakatubby

Three months after death of brother, he teams with Lewis to take Hermosa Beach Open.

June 09, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Scott Ayakatubby brought it to the beach as a reminder of his brother, as a push when he needed one, as a final reason to keep moving forward when his 38-year-old body no longer wanted to.

Ayakatubby had been carrying the memorial program given out at his older brother's recent funeral and pulled it from his backpack Sunday after winning the Hermosa Beach Open for the first time in his 19-year career.

"In between matches, I kept saying, 'I know you're up there, Greg, help us out down here,' " Ayakatubby said.

It has been a challenging time for Ayakatubby, who found his brother, Greg, 40, dead at home in Hermosa Beach in April. Autopsy results are pending.

"I hadn't heard from him in a week and I went over to his house and found him on the floor," Ayakatubby said. "It's been tough. I'm one of those guys who holds everything inside. People have been asking me, 'How can you play volleyball?' This is where I feel the best, out here on the court.

"This is where I can work some things out."

Ayakatubby teamed with Brian Lewis, 35, to win the title at Hermosa, defeating Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer, 21-18, 16-21, 22-20, and delivering proof that age is not the most important statistic on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour.

Ayakatubby's blocking and Lewis' attack on offense were key, putting two guys who hadn't been there in a while into the winners' circle.

Ayakatubby last won an AVP tournament at Huntington Beach in June 2001, while Lewis' last title came in June 2000 at Huntington.

"Being a little long in the tooth, it's always nice to get a win before the song and dance is over," Lewis said.

Ayakatubby and Lewis defeated Karch Kiraly and Brent Doble in a semifinal, 21-15, 16-21, 15-13.

For the women, Misty May and Kerri Walsh continued their dominance on the AVP after joining the tour for the first time in April.

The duo had eschewed the AVP in favor of the international tour the last two years, but won their third AVP title in as many tournaments with a 21-15, 18-21, 16-14 victory over Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs.

"It's huge for us to win the first, second and third tournaments," said Walsh, who will spend the next month on the international tour with May. "I think this is an indication of how we're going to do."

*

The U.S. team of Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard won a Federation Internationale de Volleyball tournament in Rhodes, Greece, defeating Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo in the championship, 22-20, 21-18.

Blanton won a tournament for only the second time since taking the gold medal with Eric Fonoimoana at the Sydney Olympics. Nygaard, a former All-American at UCLA, was playing in his first international tournament.

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