Saturday 26th June saw the second round of the NIVA beach tour travel to Portrush. A turn out of nine teams of both new and familiar faces ensured good competition throughout the day. Five teams were also entered for the start of the women’s tour.
New players included Portadown players Cadell, Irwin and Robb, while Ballymoney brought along young player Currie to partner McKnight. Two players from the Backswingers team who won the recent charity beach volleyball event at cutters, were also played their first event on the tour.
It was a great day of play, with mixed weather conditions and plenty of spectators. Early rounds saw the lower seeded teams defeated by the top 4 teams. Newcomers Irwin/Robb played against backswingers Sharma/Ranganathan. This 3 set match was tight right through, but the Portadown lads defeated Sharma/Ranganathan 15-9 in the 3rd.
The losers bracket saw Sharma/Ranganathan play Tsang/Cadell. Sharma/Ranganathan again produced a good display, but the 2nd of the Portadown teams prevailed with a narrow victory of 24-22 21-17.
Back to the winners bracket, Greenlee/Bell played Wright/Workman. It seemed a formality for Greenlee/Bell in the first set, winning 21-13, but a spirited performance from the older pairing of Wright/Workman in the second set, seen them fight the whole way through. After set points for both teams, the set eventually went to Greenlee/Bell 27-25.
Another big game, fit for a final was Scott/Park (3rd seeds) against Crooks/Workman (2nd seeds). This 3 set thriller seen these close friends fight to get into the semi finals. Crooks/Workman took the first set 21-17, but after regrouping, Scott/Park came back to win the 2nd set 21-10, and then the 3rd 15-13 to win 2-1.
Over to the Losers bracket, and Tsang/Cadell Faced newly formed pair Mcknight/Currie. McKnight/Currie won this with ease, 21-10 21-10. Into the quarter finals of the losers bracket, Crooks/Workman played Mankiewicz/Slomniski. Mankiewicz and Slomniski went out in 2 straight defeats in the previous tournament, and had a point to prove against previous finalists. This was a highly contested match, with points swinging to both sides. Mankiewicz/Slomniski won the first set 21-15, but this defeat sparked Crooks/Workman to life, leading them to win the next 2 sets 21-17, 15-11 and the match 2-1.
Unfortunately, Wright/Workman were not able to play in their quarter final, and so Currie/McKnight got a bye through to the semi finals. The semi final line ups seen Scott/Park play Currie/McKnight, and Greenlee/Bell play Crooks/Workman. Scott/Park had a solid performance against the newly formed paring of Curie/McKnight. With smart serving and side outs, Scott/Park progressed to the finals with a 2-0 victory, 21-19, 21-17.
Greenlee/Bell played Crooks/Workman, the same two teams which formed the final in Cutters. With 1st seeds Greenlee/Bell needing to hold their nerve against a team looking for some playback, it was always set up to be a good game. Greenlee/Bell found it hard to hit the sand against the solid defence of workman, and struggled with the height of Crooks, and so lost the 1st set 21-15. After rethinking their strategy, Greenlee/Bell came out in the second set, hoping to bring the game to a final 3rd set. Hard work by both teams saw some great rallies, and in the end, Greenlee/Bell came out on top, winning by 21 to 18. The 3rd set was of a similar story, but Greenlee/Bell stuck to their game plan, and won 15-13 to go through to the final.
The final saw Scott/Park play against Greenlee/Bell. With Scott/Park on form, it was going to be tough for Greenlee/Bell to get a 2nd victory. It was a tough competition from the start, with both teams both finding court, and making errors, but the first set went to Scott/park 21-17. Greenlee/Bell upped their game for the second set, eliminating passing errors, and after a tough set for both teams, Greenlee/Bell came out on top 21-19. The deciding set saw much of the same quality of play, both teams giving it their all. Greenlee/Bell looked set to take victory at 12-8 points ahead, but a series of errors saw Greenlee/Bell fall apart at the decisive moment, and victory went to Scott/Park 15-13.
The tour table stands very tight at the top. Greenlee/Bell on top, followed by Scott/Park, then Crooks/Workman.
The women’s competition took on a different format due to reduced numbers. Each team played against each other, then the top 2 would play in a final. Bolton/McCarroll were the team to beat, with 2 victories out of 2. Mihneva/Miezowska defeated Harkness/Witherow for a place in the final. Bolton/McCarrol looked the more likely to win from their previous performance, but this was not to be the case, as good play from Mihneva/Weizowska took the victory to finish top.
Thanks to Nick Wright from NIVA for the organisation of the tournament, Corona Extra and Carnaby Brown for sponsorship of the winner’s prizes, and to Coleraine Borough Council for the great location and their help in preparing the beach.
Photos from the event can be viewed on the NIVA Photo Gallery. Thanks to Georgi Vasilev Djadjarov for the photos.