Saturday 16th July was the 3rd single sex tournament of the year, marking the mid way point for the tour. With 2 different teams having won the first 2 events, either of those teams had a change to stamp their authority on the top spot of the beach table. The standard pairings of Scott/Park and Mcknight /Workman were there as usual, as well as Greenlee/Wright and Stanev/Vasilev. Hamilton/Pilch paired up again after their impressive 2nd place at the blaze open. Local players Kernaghan/Kerr, Clarke/Caddell and Scott/Martin all played in their first event in the single sex events, while Ramirez/Borowiecki and Gos/Bertenshaw added to the event. Bell/Hunter made up the final pair, a team who promised a lot for the event….. and delivered.
The first stage saw the top 4 seeds Workman/Mcknight, Hamilton/Pilch, Greenlee/Wright and Park/Scott get passed through to the second round. Martin/Scott saw off first round opposition Bertenshaw/Gos in a tight match with only 3 points the difference between the teams. Bell/Hunter made swift work of young Aztec’s players Caddell/Clarke 21-13, while Borowiecki/Ramirez got a bye due to a team not showing up. The first round game which got the most attention was the game between Bulgaria pairing of Stanev/Vasilev against Kernaghan/Kerr. Stanev/Vasilev have been to all events thus far, and have grown from strength to strength. As those watching will concur, it was great to see the Bulgarian pair win their first match.
Onto the 2nd round of the ‘winners’ bracket’ and top 2 seeds Workman/Mcknight and Park/Scott both went through 2-0. Hamilton/Pilch saw off Stanev/vasilev 2-0. Greenlee/Wright had a tough draw against Bell/Hunter, and in the end Bell/Hunter came out on top 2-0. In the loser’s bracket, Stanev/Vasilev took on Bertenshaw/Gos. This tight match went right to the third set, were the Bulgarians came out on top 16-14 to progress. Cadelle/Clarke took on Ramirez/Borowiecki and defeated them in a very tight and competitive match 25-23, 21-19. Kernaghan/Kerr eliminated Scott/Martin with relative ease. Further into the loser’s bracket, Greenlee/Wright defeated Kernaghan/Kerr and Stanev/Vasilev continued their run of form to eliminate Caddell/Clarke.
Back to the winners Bracket, and the big competitors were now due to play off for a semi final spot. Mcknight/Workman took on Hamilton/Pilch, in a rematch from the first event. After winning a set each, in a fantastic display of beach volleyball, Hamilton/Pilch upped their game, and forced some errors from the younger Blaze pair. Hamilton/Pilch won the 3rd and deciding set 15-9 to progress. The other match in the winners bracket saw last events winners Park/Scott take on Bell/Hunter, a new pairing for this event. Like the other match, each team took a set a piece, but Bell/Hunter pressed on in the 3rd set to win 15-6. Park/Scott and Mcknight/Workman went to the loser’s bracket, and had to win to progress to the semi finals. Mcknight/Workman saw off 4th seeds Greenlee/Wright 2-0 while Park/Scott defeated Stanev/vasilev 2-0 to progress.
In the semi finals, Hamilton/Pilch took on Scott/Park and Bell/Hunter took on McKnight/Workman. Each game proved to be a great spectacle, as all involved showed some great skills in their attempts to progress to the final. Heavy rain disrupted proceedings for 10 minutes, but when things got going again, it seemed to be the teams with the height advantage who went through, as Hamilton/Pilch won 2-0, as well as Bell/Hunter going through in 2 straight sets.
McKnight/Workman defeated Park/Scott in the 3rd 4th place playoff.
The final between Bell/Hunter and Hamilton/Pilch was delayed because of heavy rain, and once again during the 1st set, but when the rain gave a little, the players played through it to decide the victor. In a hard fought game, with excellent rally’s throughout, it was always going to be tough to find a winner, but Hamiltons height advantage at the set showed through the first set, as Hamilton/Pilch took the first set 21-19. Hamilton/Pilch continued their form into the 2nd set, and with Bell/Hunter frustrated with things not going their way, Hamilton/Pilch won the 2nd set, as tight as the first to win 2-0.
Thanks to Aztecs for the use of their facilities, and to Paul and Nick for their help in setting up. Thanks to Georgi for the nifty camera work as usual. Pictures can be seen on Facebook.
The next tournament will take place in Bangor on sat 6th Aug, under the coordination of Trevor Scott of North down.