Time Heals All Wounds in Beach Volleyball

 

By Leo Keegan

June 26th, 2016. Was it just another day?

Before we answer that, let’s flashback to April 2th, 1995. It was the start of a 3-year period in which Sinjin Smith did not play an AVP tournament. One significant factor was Sinjin was working to grow beach volleyball internationally, playing and supporting the FIVB. And because of that, Sinjin Smith was persona non grata on the AVP. Imagine that, the most influential male beach volleyball player of all time was not playing on US soil.

But time heals all wounds, and on August 24th 2001 at the Manhattan Beach Open Sinjin was celebrated as one of the game’s greatest players of all time as he played in his last AVP tournament (finishing 9th) and retired. All of the past tension and conflict was just that -- in the past.

How many more fans would beach volleyball have if Sinjin had played in AVP tournaments during those years between 1995 and 1998? How many more battles between Randy Stoklos, his former partner, and Sinjin would have taken place? Would Randy and Sinjin have re-joined as a team? There is no answer to these questions. But one thing is for sure: If Sinjin had played on the AVP during those years it would have had a positive impact on the AVP tour and the growth of the game in the USA.

So. June 26th, 2016. Was it just another day nearly 4 years ago? Well, not really. On June 26th, 2016 Kerri Walsh Jennings played in her last AVP tournament. Kerri played in three AVP tournaments that year, all with April Ross, winning all three: Huntington Beach, New York, and San Francisco. In San Francisco Kerri and April put a beat down on Kelly Claes and Sarah Hughes beating them in the finals 21-17, 21-13.

Imagine that. Kerri Walsh, arguably one of the most influential female players of all time, has been away longer from the AVP tour than Sinjin was away from the AVP tour in the nineties. 

And since Kerri is not playing on the AVP, her current partner, Brooke Sweat, one of the best defenders in the USA, plays very little on the AVP tour. The AVP Women's events are already super deep due to the huge growth of NCAA Beach Volleyball; now imagine adding these two to the mix.

At some point in the future, Kerri and the AVP will mend fences. It could be long after Kerri’s playing days are done, or it could be tomorrow. One thing is for sure, though, when it does happen, Kerri’s presence will have a positive impact on the AVP tour, a positive impact on growth of the game in the USA, and a positive impact on Kerri. 

So why not now!?

Time heals all wounds. 

GETTING BACK UP
“It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.” ~Vince Lombardi

Sara Hughes was knocked down, and like a champion she has stood back up. Hughes, the greatest player of her generation, was on the top of the world in 2016 and 2017, when along with Kelly Claes she led her USC team to back to back NCAA championships, and her first AVP win, had a tough 2019. In 2019 Summer Ross injured her back, putting their Olympic dreams on hold. 

In order to keep going, Sara played with various partners on the AVP and FIVB. On the AVP she played with Brandie Wiklerson in Manhattan Beach and Chicago, finishing 3rd in both. In Hawaii she played with Allie Wheeler and finished 9th. On the FIVB she played with Terese Cannon in Chetumal in November and finished 25th. But in February Sara partnered with Lauren Fendrick and won the FIVB 2-Star in Siem Reap Cambodia (check out the finals here: Siem Reap Finals). Sara is back!

Let’s hope summer will be back soon, as well!

UPCOMING 3-STAR AND ABOVE FIVB TOURNAMENTS 

The corona virus has caused the cancellation of several FIVB events. Below is the list of remaining 3-Star and above tournaments (9 left in qualification period.).

DATES

TOURNAMENT

GENDER

PURSE

Mar 3-7

Bandar Abbas Three Star, Iran (postponed)

M

US$75,000

Mar 9-13

Katara Beach Volleyball Cup Doha 2020, Qatar

M

US$150,000

Mar 18-22

Coolangatta Three Star, Australia

BOTH

US$75,000

Mar 25-29

Cancun Four Star, Mexico

BOTH

US$150,000

Apr 15-19

Singapore Beach Open 2020, Singapore (cancelled)

BOTH

US$150,000

Apr 22-26

Yangzhou Four Star, China (postponed)

BOTH

US$150,000

Apr 29-May 3

Siming Four Star, China (cancelled)

BOTH

US$150,000

May 6-10

Itapema Four Star, Brazil

BOTH

US$150,000

May 6-10

Jurmala Three Star, Latvia

BOTH

US$75,000

May 20-24

Ostrava Four Star, Czech Republic

BOTH

US$150,000

May 27-31

Warsaw Four Star, Poland

BOTH

US$150,000

Jun 3-7

Moscow Four Star, Russia

BOTH

US$150,000

Jun 10-14

Rome Five Star, Italy

BOTH

US$300,000

 

 

UPCOMING AVP TOURNAMENTS 

And for reference the 2020 AVP schedule is below.

DATES

TOURNAMENT

Apr 30-May 3

Huntington Beach Open

May 14-17

Austin Open

Jun 4-7

Gold Series NYC Open, New York

Jun 18-21

Seattle Open

Jul 23-26

Hermosa Beach Open

Aug 13-16

Gold Series Manhattan Beach Open

Sep 3-6

Gold Series Championships, Chicago

Sep 17-20

Hawaii Open, Waikiki

   

See you on the Beach,

Leo

 

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