The calendar officially deems June 21 to be the beginning of summer, but for many in the South Bay, early June signifies the beginning of the beach season—and what better way to kick off the first weekend in June than a friendly beach volleyball competition in the sand?
Volleyball Ventures, which is celebrating its 25th season of hosting beach volleyball tournaments in the South Bay, held its classic coed doubles round-robin event Saturday with more than 130 entrants competing.
Patrick Meija, the tournament director, adeptly runs the all-day competition that also feeds players and organizes prizes.
“This community is made up of weekend warriors and our tournaments are a great way to meet singles. Introducing volleyball and some friendly competition provides a less threatening way to play and meet new people and have a lot of fun,” Meija said.
The unique tournament format for Saturday’s play involved coed teams in a round-robin draw. Each game was played with a different partner during pool play to start.
“In this tournament you get to play with a bunch of different players with different styles and it makes it a more fun atmosphere, I really enjoy it,” said Hermosa Beach resident Lani Hennessey.
Unlike traditional double-elimination tournaments where you would signup with a partner and play exclusively with them, the Volleyball Ventures format offers players two great benefits: maximum playtime on the beach and the opportunity to meet numerous potential friends in the nearly all-day competition.
“The coed tournaments are the most popular tournaments for us. You get a full day of volleyball and make a lot of new friends along the way,” Meija said.
With the 130 participants placed into three divisions based on experience and ability levels, pool play dominated the morning and early afternoon.
“Patrick is a great guy and does a fantastic job with this. The tournament lets you meet a lot of new people and gives you a little bit more competition than you might have on the average weekend,” said Hermosa Beach resident James Farrell.
With games scored on rally-points, individual’s pool-play scores were based on an aggregate of points during all of their pool matches.
Competing in Division 2, Redondo Beach resident Tashia Hinchliffe has not only gotten her time in on the sand courts, but also helped out with the tournaments for several years.
“We have people who come from San Juan Capistrano to Pismo Beach and they have been doing so for many, many years because people have such a great time,” Hinchliffe said.
Following pool play, top scorers were paired and play with a fixed partner during single elimination playoffs.
In the more competitive Division 1, Thuy Nguyen-Perez and Craig Mattison were victorious over Hilary Brinkman and John Gitt in the finals.
Division 2’s top prize went to Jen Woodard and Tom Lewis, with Lynette Bui and Joe Lee coming in second.
Kamila Witszyn and Jean Larin took home the championship in Division 3 with Lauren Connolly and Michael Jung finishing second.
The coed doubles tournament is offered five times throughout the year, with the next one coming August 6. Volleyball Ventures’ next tournament will take place June 26 with a men’s and women’s round-robin doubles format.