Sand courts await beach volley open
In a Waikato first, the Waikato Beach Volleyball Open is set to hit the sand courts at Lake Karapiro later this month.
In a new development this year, the open is the only Waikato leg of this year's three-round New Zealand Beach Volleyball Tour.
The sand courts at Karapiro - which are home to a number of other volleyball events - have also played host to a previous version of the open.
The past tournament, last held at Karapiro in 2012, had to share court time in the region with an event in Hamilton.
However, this will be the first time the venue has been stand alone on the tour.
The other rounds are at Mt Maunganui and North Harbour. Waikato Beach Volleyball Open technical director Alison Storey, whose dream it was to build the Karapiro Sand Courts back in 2006, said she was delighted the tour was returning.
The last time the previous version of the tournament was held at Karapiro - played then as the Karapiro Open - it attracted major international teams.
In fact, the men's winners at Karapiro that year, the German pairing of Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann, went on to win the gold medal at the event at that year's London Olympics.
And Storey is hopeful that now that an open is back at Lake Karapiro, "the perfect venue", it will go from strength to strength.
"I was disappointed when it didn't happen last year, but it is fair to say that there just wasn't the manpower or personnel on the ground to make it happen.
"For all intents and purposes, this is the type of regional event we envisaged being held at the courts when they were built."
This year's Waikato Beach Volleyball Open will feature a men's and a women's draw, made up of mostly New Zealand teams.
The Waikato Beach Volleyball Open is set to be held at the sand courts at Lake Karapiro on January 25-26, the same weekend as the Cambridge Town Cup is due to be held at the lake.
Storey hopes that will help draw a big crowd to watch the action, which is free.