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Jesse Rambis, Kevin Wong advance at Manhattan Beach Open

Jesse Rambis, son of former Lakers player and coach Kurt Rambis, and his teammate advance to the third round of the Manhattan Beach Open pro beach volleyball tournament.

August 26, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Jesse Rambis (right) and Kevin Wong celebrate after winning a point against Travis Schoonover and Nils Nielson during the Manhattan Beach Open on Friday.
Jesse Rambis (right) and Kevin Wong celebrate after winning a point against… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Kurt Rambis isn't a very good beach volleyball player. "I'm awful," he says, laughing.

But the former Lakers forward and NBA coach's son, Jesse, is pretty good — a professional, even.

On Friday at the Manhattan Beach Open, Jesse Rambis and his partner, Kevin Wong, the second-seeded team in the tournament, beat Travis Schoonover and Nils Nielson, 21-19, 19-21, 15-8, to advance to the third round.

Wong is a Lakers fan, especially of the Showtime teams the elder Rambis played for, but Wong was pretty impressed with the junior Rambis after playing alongside him for the first time Friday.

"I guess he got the fast-twitch genes in the family," Wong joked after.

Jesse Rambis picked up volleyball in high school, first playing indoor and then on the sand in Manhattan Beach, not far from where his family lived and where the open takes place.

It was all for fun, at first. "Then I fell in love with it," Jesse Rambis says.

He became a setter at UCLA (though he didn't play much), then played his first beach volleyball tournament at the open in 2006, where he advanced through qualifying.

He became a pro in 2008, has played in 44 total tournaments, this being his fourth Manhattan Beach Open, and he expects to continue on in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

At 25, Jesse Rambis hasn't made too much (just $10,345), his best tournament finish is second place, and his dream to represent the U.S. in the Olympics may seem lofty, but right now he's happy to have found a sport that complements his height (6-feet) and skill set.

"It's more my style," he says. "It's not a big-person game. You have to have all-around skill."

Kurt Rambis often attends practices and games, and although he may not play volleyball very well, he is a coach, so he helps where he can.

Jesse Rambis can take after his dad in that instance, as he helped coach Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love in Love's pro beach volleyball debut at the open Thursday.

During their practice sessions last week, Love, who has been coached by Kurt Rambis too, jokingly tweeted his appreciation for Jesse Rambis: "Gotta say, he might be the best Rambis I've been coached by."

Tournament play continues from 8 a.m. until about 7 p.m. Saturday, with main draw action on 16 courts near the Manhattan Beach Pier.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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