ST. PETERSBURG — Most aspiring beach volleyball professionals move to California once they're serious about making a career out of the sport.
Raquel Ferreira took the opposite approach.
Ferreira, originally from Brazil, lived in California for eight years before packing up for Florida. She slept on the couch of playing partner Kristen Batt in Sarasota for a couple of months before moving St. Petersburg a little more than a year ago.
Ferreira, 31, who is the founder and director of Bevolley Academy in St. Petersburg, and Batt 32, hope to spur growth of the sport locally.
"Everyone goes to California because the coaches are there and most of the players train there," Ferreira said. "We brought our structure here, coach and everyone. You used to see a lot of differences, especially in the junior events, between California players and the Florida players. Now it's starting to even out. It's starting to shift."
The duo's play Friday at the St. Petersburg Open should help.
Ferreira and Batt opened with a 21-14, 21-12 victory over Morgan Miller and Brooke Niles then produced the upset of the tournament, beating 2012 Olympic silver medalists and top-seeded Jennifer Kessy and April Ross 21-18, 15-21, 19-17 to reach the quarterfinals.
In the third game, neither team led by more than two. Ahead 14-13, Kessy and Ross had a chance to win on Kessy's serve, but Batt hit the back line with a spike. Batt and Ferreira had four match points but couldn't convert until, at 18-17, Kessy's off-balance spike fell into the net.
"The pressure was on them because they carry a heavy, silver medal on their chest. We don't," Ferreira said. "So for us, it's a bonus. Every point, we were going after it; no regrets."
The No. 2 seed, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and Whitney Pavlik, also fell in the second round, to Emily Day and Summer Ross 21-17, 21-10.
Day and Ross, finalists at the past two AVP Tour events, have swept Walsh Jennings and Pavlik all five times they've met.
"Every time we play them, we play a little better," Ross said. "It was awesome."
Third-seeded Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat also lost in the second round.
Most of the top men's teams moved on. No. 1 seed Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal took care of Dave McKienzie and Nils Nielsen 21-12, 21-19 in the first round and Adrian Carambula and Stafford Slick 21-14, 21-18 in the second.
"It hasn't been smooth," Dalhausser said. "But we're getting the job done."
Second-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson and third-seeded Theodore Brunner and Nick Lucena swept their two matches.
Fourth-seeded Todd Rogers and Ryan Doherty, however, fell. Rogers, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and Doherty lost 17-21, 21-15, 15-10 to Jeremy Casebeer and Andy McGuire, seeded 13th, in the first round.