Louise Lepront Up Against Home Favourite in WSL Round of 16 in California

The World Surf League (WSL) World Junior Championships hit the elimination round on Wednesday, 10 January at Oceanside Pier in California, in the United States in two-to-three foot conditions testing competitors' patience and ability, and South Africa’s Anastasia Venter fell victim to the high standard of competition The nations’s hopes persist with Round 1 champ, Louise Lepront, with Opening Round victors ready to take on Day 2’s standout surfers in the Round of 16 match ups in San Diego, California, at the 2023 Sambazon World Junior Championships on January 11, 2024. Photo: Kenny Morris/World Surf League

South Africa still have a top contender in the World Surf League (WSL) World Junior Championships hit the elimination round, with Louise Lepront taking on home favourite Bella Kentworthy in the round of 16 match-ups at Oceanside Pier in California, in the United States on Thursday, 11 January 2024,

Wednesday’s two-to-three foot conditions tested competitors’ patience and ability to showcase their potential with the women’s Elimination Round duals on the line, and Anastasia Venter’s participation in the competition unfortunately came to an end when she was beaten by Hawaii’s Nora Liotta.

One of Brazil’s rising threats Laura Raupp faced elimination with just three minutes remaining and rose to the occasion when the ocean came to life. Raupp’s forehand power and technique was on full display to accrue a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10), overtaking the lead from Asia’s number one Kana Nakashio (Japan). Now, Raupp returns to the Round of 16 after finishing with a Quarterfinal result at the 2022 World Junior Championships. 

“I was disappointed with myself because I had priority and let her go on the 7.50, so I knew I needed a better wave to show my surfing,” said Raupp. “I’m super stoked to make that heat. I was at the World Juniors last year, so I’m stoked to make it again as a wildcard, and just enjoying my time here in California with my family. It’s such a dream being here.”

A stunning performance from Keira Buckpitt (Australia) eliminated South America standout Sophia Medina (Brazil) in a stout dual between the two rising competitors. Buckpitt’s quick start earned her the heat lead before Medina applied pressure to the Australian with a 7.50. Nearing the end of the heat, Buckpitt used her priority to block Medina on a potential scoring wave and left the Brazilian in an opportunity to strike again. But, the ocean did not cooperate and Buckpitt maintained her lead until time expired. 

“I definitely didn’t think I was going to beat her,” said Buckpitt. “Just knowing Gabriel [Medina] is in her corner and how good she is, I just thought no way. This is definitely the biggest event I’ve done with all the big names like Sierra [Kerr], Bella [Kenworthy] and them. I’m a no-namer here, but I want to give it my best go.”

Also thriving under pressure, wildcards Ellie Harrison (Australia), Zahli Kelly (Australia), Eweleiula Wong (Hawaii), and Nanaho Tsuzuki (Japan), joined Hawaii/Tahiti Nui’s top representative Nora Liotta (Hawaii) with wins in their Elimination Round duals to move into the Round of 16. Talia Swindal (USA) also heads into the Round of 16 after Janire Etxabarri (Euskadi) had to withdraw from the event due to injury.

World Junior Championships Women’s Elimination Round Results

HEAT 1: Ellie Harrison (AUS) 8.93 DEF. Sky Brown (GBR) 5.90
HEAT 2: Laura Raupp (BRA) 15.33 DEF. Kana Nakashio (JPN) 13.33
HEAT 3: Zahli Kelly (AUS) 12.10 DEF. Cocona Kawase (JPN) 9.17
HEAT 4: Eweleiula Wong (HAW) 10.84 DEF. Isabelle Nalu (BRA) 6.97
HEAT 5: Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN) 12.90 DEF. Kalea Gervasi (PER) 10.10
HEAT 6: Nora Liotta (HAW) 10.44 DEF. Anastasia Venter (RSA) 7.90
HEAT 7: Keira Buckpitt (AUS) 12.00 DEF. Sophia Medina (BRA) 9.97
HEAT 8: Talia Swindal (USA) DEF. Janire Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK)

World Junior Championships Women’s Round of 16 Matchups

HEAT 1: Erin Brooks (CAN) vs. Noah Klapp (DEU)
HEAT 2: Sol Aguirre (PER) vs. Eweleiula Wong (HAW)
HEAT 3: Ellie Harrison (AUS) vs. Annette Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK)
HEAT 4: Zoe Benedetto (USA) vs. Nora Liotta (HAW)
HEAT 5: Sierra Kerr (AUS) vs. Keira Buckpitt (AUS)
HEAT 6: Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN) vs. Laura Raupp (BRA)
HEAT 7: Bella Kenworthy (USA) vs. Louise Lepront (RSA)
HEAT 8: Zahli Kelly (AUS) vs. Talia Swindal (USA)

Photo caption: The World Surf League (WSL) World Junior Championships hit the elimination round on Wednesday, 10 January at Oceanside Pier in California, in the United States in two-to-three foot conditions testing competitors’ patience and ability, and South Africa’s Anastasia Venter fell victim to the high standard of competition The nations’s hopes persist with Round 1 champ, Louise Lepront, with Opening Round victors ready to take on Day 2’s standout surfers in the Round of 16 match ups in San Diego, California, at the 2023 Sambazon World Junior Championships on January 11, 2024. Photo: Kenny Morris/World Surf League

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