Report from Volleyball England
For the third consecutive year the Volleyball England Beach Tour (VEBT) graced the shores of Boscombe beach, Bournemouth for the final showcase event of the Tour.
In the run up to the Bournemouth finals the tour had visited several seaside resorts nationwide including Margate, Great Yarmouth, Skegness and Weston-Super-Mare, and Tour came to an end in style with two action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled days which gave spectators the chance to watch top class volleyball players battle it out to become the National Beach Volleyball Champions of 2012.
The opening day of action set the tone for a competitive weekend and despite the turbulent weather conditions the action on court was tough with the Tour title at stake.
This year a new partnership with LED Sport Europe, a division of Maritime Media Services Ltd saw the inclusion of a 35ft big screen, which relayed every moment of the high energy action to people during the event. For the second year running the highlights from the weekend will be televised on Sky Sports in September.
On day one of the action, both men’s and women’s top seeds pulled out exceptional performances and showed just how tough they are having dominated the top for much of the Tour and sailing through the early rounds. However in the quarter finals it was Denise Austin and Mel Coutts who got the better of Helen Brown in their usual three set affair. While Jess Grimson and Vicky Palmer overcame GB player Lucy Boulton and her partner Kerri Friend to secure their place in the semi finals, 2-0 (21-17, 21-15).
In the men’s competition, top seeds Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf won their quarter final comfortably with victory over Ireneusz Jaguszewski and Wojtek Kiedrzynski 2-0 (21-16, 21-11). While winners of Great Yarmouth and Skegness titles Phil Smith and Russell Watson, lost out at the hands of GB pairing Robin Miedzybrodzki and Tom Lord, 2-0 (21-18, 21-11).
On the final day of competition the 2012 Tour came to a thrilling end in front of a capacity crowd for much of the day. In stark contrast to previous conditions the morning action began under clear blue skies and high temperatures.
In the first of the women’s semi finals Jess Grimson and Vicky Palmer sailed through to the final with a dominant performance over fifth seeds Alexandra Vajdova and Katja Gless 2-0 (21-13, 21-13). While Denise Austin and Mel Coutts overcame efforts from Lucy Boulton and Kerri Friend in what was an entertaining semi final – 2-0 (21-17, 21-15).
In the men’s competition Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory found themselves on familiar territory when they drew rivals Phil Smith and Russell Watson in the semi finals. With both these teams fairly well matched, the crowd were treated to a close battle and standard three setter between these teams. But it was Phil/Watson who had the edge in the decider, the final score 2-1 (21-15, 19-21, 15-8). In the second semi final wild card entry of Lord/Miedzybrodski justified their place in the competition with a comfortable victory over eleventh seeds Berislav Bobus and Davide Grandolfo – 2-0 (21-8, 21-18).
As an introduction to the finals the players and spectators were treated to an aerobatic display by team Red Bull as they performed a fly over full of adrenalin pumping manoeuvres – much to the enjoyment of the crowd.
In the women’s final, reining champions Denise Austin and Mel Coutts faced the relatively new partnership of GB women’s indoor player Vicky Palmer and former Arsenal Ladies footballer Jess Grimson. Trained by Denise Austin in the run up to these finals, the partnership of Grimson/Palmer has just got better and better and what was set to be a fascinating encounter between these two teams did not disappoint. The crowd were treated to technical prowess and well placed tactical play but it was Austin/Coutts who once again proved just too good as they took the 2012 championship in two sets, the final score 2-0 (21-17, 21-18).
The eagerly anticipated men’s final saw the Tour’s reining champions and GB partnership of Tom Lord and Robin Miedzybrodzki come up against second seeds Phil Smith and Russell Watson in what was a rematch of their quarter final encounter. Having previously lost out to the GB pair, it was clear that Smith/Watson were determined to push the favourites all the way. After a number of breathtaking rallies and some of the best beach volleyball ever witnessed on the Tour, Lord/Miedzybrodski proved unstoppable as they closed out the hard hitting game in front of raucous crowd 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-9) to retain their title as National Beach Volleyball Champions of 2012 – it was a fitting end to what has been a competitve Tour.
In the Junior VEBT finals event of 2012, open to both Girls and Boys pairs in the U17 age group. There were some impressive rallies played out on centre court under perfect weather conditions. Hartnoll/Lawson eventually emerged winners against Dunbavin/Torrens in a close final after turning up the heat in the deciding set 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-6). In the Girls competition Cheaney/Sayers appeared unstoppable as they took the title against Butcher/Tuttiett with a comfortable straight sets victory 2-0 (21-13 21-12).
Throughout the whole Tour a free grand stand was available for spectators to watch the action free – and those spectators who were feeling inspired to get involved, had the opportunity to try out beach volleyball with Volleyball England’s popular ‘Go Spike’ come-and-try beach courts.
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