Top pairs expected at slam

High-profile players will abound at the Brightwater courts this weekend for the region's grand slam beach volleyball event.

Current New Zealand champions, former New Zealand representatives and a few surprise pairings will highlight the two-day Air New Zealand Holidays Brightwater Grand Slam, starting tomorrow.

Women's entries have been slow in 2012, with four pairs expected, but the men's tournament should have about 12 duos.

Men's champions, the Blenheim pairing of Greg Lindsay-Brown and Luka Velebit, will not defend their title. Instead, Lindsay-Brown will pair with Nelson-based Latvian beach volleyball coach Armins Vensbergs.

Adding an international flavour, Brendon Heath has travelled from Rarotonga and will play with his brother, Daniel. Brendon is a former Nelson Giants basketballer and New Zealand beach volleyball rep.

Another pairing to watch out for will be Teryn Proracki and Jeremy Ditzel. Proracki was a member of the indoor volleyball national club champion Nelson Pine men's team, while Ditzel will represent New Zealand at under-19 level in Melbourne next month.

In the women's draw, champions Micah Lindsay-Brown, from Blenheim, and Julia Tilley, from Hamilton, will not be back to defend their title. Lindsay-Brown will still be favoured to take out the title this year, paired with fellow Marlborough athlete Abbey Greenwood.

The Nelson Mail