Ack’s back, again, with

Scott Ayakatubby delivers one of 17 kills in Sunday’s Huntington Beach finals. Photo by Frank Goroszko

Canyon Ceman finds plenty of room in Sunday’s Huntington Beach finals. Photo by Frank Goroszko

Ack’s back again, wins Huntington with Bacil

by Kevin Cody

Scott Ayakatubby was at his usual 16th Street perch on the Hermosa Strand wall Monday afternoon, greeting the usual passersby. Ayakatubby, now 36, has been training at the 16th courts for over two decades. And at 6-foot-4, 204 pounds, he’s easy to spot.

For the past few years, most passerby comments have been along the lines of "How’s it going."

On Monday, the greetings began with "Congratulations." The previous afternoon in Huntington Beach, Ayakatubby won his first AVP tournament since 1996.

When Ayk won his first ever AVP volleyball tournament in Santa Cruz in 1985, his partner and fellow Mira Costa High School alumnus Brent Frohoff called him the most naturally gifted athlete on the tour. As recently as 1996 he earned nearly $200,000 in prize money. In 1995 he and the future beach volleyball Olympic gold medal winner Karch Kiraly won eight tournaments together.

But then came three consecutive years of knee surgeries and an injury to his right hand that required nine screws and a metal plate to repair.

Ayk didn’t play at all in 1999 and entered only one tournament last year.

He began his most recent comeback last week in the Hermosa open with a disappointing seventh place finish with Lee LeGrande of Hawaii. LeGrand concluded that he could do better with a younger partner and told Ack he wouldn’t be playing with him in Huntington.

Lucky for Ack. On Wednesday Ack received a call from Eduardo Bacil. The two-time Brazilian Beach Volleyball Champion recently moved back to the South Bay to play on the AVP tour and needed a partner.

"He’s easy to work with. He has good ball handling skills," Ack said of his new partner.

In the finals Ack and Bacil faced another Costa alum Canyon Ceman and 1996 Olympic Silver Medal winner Mike Whitmarsh. Ceman and Whitmarsh had advanced to the finals with a semifinal win over LeGrand and newcomer Mark Williams.

Ack and Bacil took an early lead in the first game and were never in danger of losing it. But in the second game they trailed early and never caught up, losing 21-15.

In the tie-breaker Ceman and Whitmarsh jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and were a point away from match victory at 14-12, when Ack scored a kill and Ceman hit long. The score was tied again at 15-15 when Ceman’s cut shot went wide. Basil ended it with an ace down the middle.

"It felt good," the always taciturn Ayckatubby said of his 18th AVP victory. Asked if he will be playing again with Bacil, he answered, "Hope so."

The next AVP event will be a men’s and women’s tournament July 13 in Muskegon, Michigan. The tour returns to california with the Santa Barbara Open on August 17, followed by the Manhattan Open on August 24.

Fontana, Youngs win in Cagliari

Also on Sunday, Barbra Fontana of Manhattan Beach and partner Elaine Youngs of Encinitas won the finals and $27,000 at the FIVB tournament in Cagliari, Italy. Fontana and Youngs rallied from a 21-10 defeat in the first game against Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Gold Mealllists Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst to score a 21-19 and 15-11 wins in the best of three match. It was second pro beach title this season for Fontana and Youngs, who captured a domestic crown in April at Clearwater Beach, Florida. Manhattan Beach Holly McPeak and Lisa Arce, who defeated Fontana and Youngs for the Hermosa Open title two weeks ago, finished fifth in Cagliari. The women play in Berth, Switzerland this weekend. ER