|Weather Holds to Allow a Successful NIVA Beach Weekend.|
|Published: 24 Jun 2012|
The second and third stages of the NIVA beach tour stayed with the north coast, as the east strand beach again provided the venue for the beach competitions. Saturdays event, which was a pairs same sex event, was set to be the highest attended NIVA beach event apart from the schools events, but unfortunately some teams had to withdraw. Sundays tournament, which was a mixed event, reached its full subscription of 16 teams, with 1 team withdrawing on the day.
Saturdays event was due to be a grand slam event, but with the beach unknowingly booked until 12 midday, the competition was changed to an open event.
This competition attracted teams from both sides of the border, with usual players such as Benny O’Regan, Johnny Whitty and Sergej Rodin representing VAI. NI had their usual strong representation including last years beach winners Johnny Workman for the mens, and Irena Mihneva for the womens. The mens event, was always going to be a tough one to win, with a lot of very experienced players talking part. It was good to see representation from several of the indoor junior players who are excelling on the beach and should be watched out for in the very near future as strong competitors. With 6 teams made up of teenage players, White/McKendry were the highest finishers in 9th place
Top seeds McKnight/Workman were hoping to increase their lead at the top of the mens standings, but with 2 tough games, the top seeds only managed to finish 5th. In the 2 semi finals were O’Regan/Whitty vs Scott/Park and Rodin/Vescu vs Greenlee/Wright. Greenlee/Wright seamed an unlikely team to progress to this stage after a first round defeat to Workman/Kerr, but managed to fight their way through the Losers bracket to make it to the final 4. Greenlee/Wright were then able to defeat Rodin/Vescu in the 3rd set 20-18 after coming back from 10-5 down. O’Regan/Whitty vs Scott/Park was always going to be a tough match, but with this being the first competition Scott/Park have played together this year in the NIVA tour, O’Regan/Whitty edged to victory to meet Greenlee/Wright in the final.
The mens final was fought with great spirt from both teams. O’regan/Whitty took the first set 21-13, then Greenlee/Wright took the 2nd 14-21 to set up a thrilling third set. In almost a reverse of fortune for Greenlee/Wright, they threw away a 9-12 lead to lose out 13-15, giving O’regan/Whitty the gold medals.
The womens section, although slightly smaller, was still as competitive as the mens, players from America, Ireland, NI and Bulgaria were competing for the top spot. As with the mens section there were young players out to impress, and against tough opposition like Mihneva/Wiezowska, they did just that.
The winners from the last event went their separate ways in this competition, with Madden teaming up with Klimkeviciute, and Schreck teaming up with Guerra. Goodliffe/De Jode were able to put in a repeat performance from the last competition and earn another 75 points each with a 7th place finish. Schneider/Zanthoff took part in their first event of the season, and put up a strong fight through out the competition. They walked away with a respectable 6th place finish. The semi finals saw teams of Madden/Klimkeviciute, Wiezowska/Mihneva, Simon/Byrne/Gormally and Guerra/Schreck. A very high standard of play was shown in the semi finals, but in the end, Madden/Klimkeviciute and Wiezowska/Mihneva made it through to the final. This proved to be, as you would expect, then most exciting game of the day. Last years strongest pair Wiezowska/Mihneva produced some great defensive plays, but in the end were outdone by NIVA beach Newcomers for 2012 of Madden/Klimkeviciute.
After a hard days graft on Saturday, many of the players managed to spark themselves into action to compete again on Sunday. This even had a full bracket of 16 teams competing for the first mixed title of the year. Many tried to guess the eventual winners of the event, but with so many good teams, it was an impossible task.
The competition had many great games but the most outstanding game of the early stages was when the young Millls pair put out the Strong Pairing of McKnight/Zanthoff. Unfortunately the team could progress no further as Andrew had to leave. Other young teams impressed through the day, with Stewart/Edgar and Marshall/Goodliffe all showing a high standard.
Nearing the business end of the competition, Pilch/Wiezowska looked a team challenging for the title, but they were eventually put out. In the end up, Wright/Walkingshaw faced Scott/Mihneva in a thrilling final, which say Wright/Walkingshaw come out victorious in the third set.
Congratulations to all who entered these events and made them as big as they were.
The next scheduled tournament was Portadown on 30th Jun, but this has been moved back to Sat 4th Aug allow NIVA players to travel to the VAI event in Donegal.
A special thanks to Nick Wright and the players from Ballymoney, who gave up their time to help set up and clear away the equipment.
Current Tour Rankings after the 3 events is available at: http://www.nivb.com/beach/beach_standings.php
Photos from Saturday are available on Facebook. With thanks to Georgi Vasilev for the excellent photos.