In a first for New Zealand Beach Volleyball, two inland centres in the Waikato will host two of the four legs of the 2011 Pro Beach Volleyball Series.
The 48-team ‘Hamilton Open’, with both Men’s and Women’s sections, takes place at two venues in Hamilton city on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th January – Te Rapa Beach Volleyball Centre for preliminary matches on the Saturday, and at a special show court being purpose-built for the weekend in front of the old Grandstand at Claudelands Events Centre – with playoffs and finals on the Sunday.
The following week, on Wednesday 19th & Thursday 20th, the Karapiro Open will be held at the Karapiro Beach Volleyball Centre, alongside the National Rowing Centre in the Karapiro Domain.
Eight international teams (see initial list below) will be joining 40 NZ pairs at the events, with the series being the only international event in Australasia this summer, following the collapse of Australia’s national series.
Top NZ women’s and men’s pairings will be aiming to boost their international rankings during the series, with Hamilton’s Hannah Croad joining partner Micah Lindsay-Brown (Blenheim) to continue their early summer form where they have won both the Te Rapa and Mairangi Bay Grand Slam events.
Top 30 international Men’s pair, the Bay of Plenty’s Kirk Pitman and Jason Lochead have 2009 and 2010 FIVB World Series podium finishes on their CVs, and a London Olympics spot in their sights.
Men’s International Pairings likely to participate in Hamilton Open:
Aaron Crook & Al Lyne (Australia)
Valentine Bergeman & Paul Becker (Germany)
Kevin & Andy Ces (France) tbc
1 more pair to be confirmed
Women’s International Pairings likely to participate in Hamilton Open:
Eliza Dean & Katie Bartoli (Australia)
Sarah Goller & Laura Ludwig (Germany)
Great Britain No.1 (in training for 2010 Olympics)
Great Britain No.2 (in training for 2010 Olympics)
At both the Hamilton and Karapiro Opens, a preliminary Qualification Tournament will take place the day prior to the main event, with up to 8 places in the main draw being at stake. The12 top-seeded New Zealand teams will go straight into the main draw in each event, along with the 4 international teams.
Good young Hamilton teams, like Fraser High’s Kurt Stewart & Isaac Brouwer, and Shaunna Polley (Fraser) & Holly Sprosen (Hillcrest High), will be attempting to replicate their national age-group successes by breaking into senior ranks through the qualification process. ….over
Having the national series visit the central Waikato is a coup for the local Waikato Volleyball Association, with the sand courts at te Rapa only being in place for 13 months, and those at Karapiro for just over a year.
In the Hamilton Open’s case, Volleyball New Zealand has a 3-year agreement with the Hamilton City Council to run the event in the city.
Entry to the Hamilton Open will be free at both venues, with games running from 9am each day, until about 5pm on Friday and Saturday, and with the Women’s and Men’s finals at Claudelands taking place on the Sunday afternoon.