Marlborough raid on pairs titles
The Marlborough pairs came to the Brightwater Beach Club on Saturday and left with the points, taking out both the men's and women's events at the Nelson Challenger beach volleyball tournament.
New Zealand Open hopefuls Greg Lindsay-Brown and Tame Malcolm won the men's competition final in two sets, while Micah Lindsay-Brown and Abbey Greenwood repeated the dose in the women's final.
Lindsay-Brown and Malcolm had too much height for the pairing of Nelson-based Latvian player Armins Vensbergs and Marlborough's Andrew Jeffries. The vertically gifted duo won the first set 21-13 and went relatively unchallenged in the second, 21-14 to take out the best of three final.
In the women's final, the relatively new team of Waimea College's Sophia Johnston and Kylie Taikato could not match the guile of Lindsay-Brown and Greenwood, the Marlborough pair winning 21-12 and 21-11, to pick up important ranking points.
The tournament, sanctioned by Volleyball New Zealand, awards ranking points based on the final placings, which are then used to seed players for beach events like the New Zealand Championship. Only the top 24 ranked teams are able to play at the New Zealand Open.
With Marlborough claiming the top rewards, a line in the sand may not be too far away if the strong performance of many junior duos from Nelson can continue. One of the most outstanding performances of the day saw year 10 Waimea College students Hannah Davenhill and Katie Ditzel win through to the women's semifinal.
The 15-year-olds were outdone in the first set up to 15, losing 15-6. In the second set, the youngsters stormed back into contention and looked like they might force a decider, before falling just short, 15-13.
In the second women's semifinal, Nelson College for Girls' Ellie Bell teamed up with Gabrielle Edmondson of Canterbury. The pair, looking for game time ahead of their appearance for New Zealand at the Australian junior beach volleyball championships in Melbourne in January, were beaten 15-4 and 15-10 by Johnston and Taikato.
Another junior beach volleyball representative pair were playing in the men's competition, but Nelson College's James Anderson and Harry Fergusson just missed out on the semifinals.
In the men's semifinals Nelson's Canadian import Teryn Proracki and Nelson College basketball star Finn Delany pushed Lindsay-Brown and Malcolm to three sets. The decisive set went past the 15-point mark, but the champions got home 12-15 15-12 19-17.
The second semifinal saw Vensbergs and Jeffries defeat Daniel Heath and Jack Redpath 20-18 15-10.
Vensbergs, one of the tournament organisers, said that if many of the young players continued to develop at the rate they are now, Nelson would be able to defend their beach landing soon enough.
"What we need to do in Nelson is work to build some good teams, better teams. We will probably go with junior players. They just need to get more experience playing beach.
"With beach volleyball in this area, more younger people are playing and that is very good for the future. We can just hope that each year it will get better and better."
On Sunday, the Marlborough Beach Volleyball Club will hold their Challenger event at the Marlborough Beach Courts at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim.
Lindsay-Brown and Malcolm won the men's competition, and with Micah Lindsay-Brown and Greenwood not playing as a pair, Katie Cunningham and Georgie Crawford took out the title.
There were again some good results for the pair of Bell and Edmondson, this time the New Zealand age-group representatives made it through to the final.
Anderson and Fergusson progressed into the semifinals in Blenheim, finishing third in the tournament.
The Nelson Mail