COLOARDO SPRINGS, Colo. Six U.S. Beach Volleyball teams will travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to compete in the Dubai Open, the first-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour event in the Persian Gulf, which will run from Oct. 6-11 at Jumeirah Beach Park.
Kerri Walsh (Saratoga, Calif.), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, will cap off her beach season with a little twist at the event in Dubai. With long-time beach partner Misty May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) competing on ABC television's hit show "Dancing With the Stars," Walsh will partner with fellow Olympian Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) in Dubai. Branagh teamed with Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) to reach the quarterfinals in Beijing.
Walsh and May-Treanor won their last 10 international beach tournaments, including all four they entered in 2008. Branagh and Youngs enjoyed 14 top-five finishes on the international circuit since the start of 2007. Branagh and Youngs, ranked sixth in the most recent FIVB Beach World Rankings, picked up a victory in Barcelona in May 2008 for their lone FIVB Beach title of the year.
Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) will also make the trip to Dubai. Boss and Ross have finished in the top five on seven occasions during the 2008 FIVB season, with a top finish of third place coming in Stavanger, Norway, during a Grand Slam event in June. The tandem, ranked ninth in the world, captured the championship at Stavanger in 2007.
Tyra Turner (Fort Myers Beach, Fla.) will team with Nancy Mason (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) for the first time in an international competition since the Vitoria Open in Brazil in September 2006. Turner has partnered with Rachel Wacholder (Laguna Beach, Calif.) since 2007 and the duo has two international second place finishes in 2008 (Paris and Stare Jablonki, Poland).
In addition to the three main draw women's teams, two other U.S. teams are expected to compete at Dubai in the qualification bracket. Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Ashley Ivy (Arlington, Texas) won two FIVB Beach Satellite tournaments this summer (Liechtenstein and Egypt) and will look to qualify for the main draw, as will the pair of Angie Akers (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Brooke Hanson (Ventura, Calif.).
On the men's side, Sean Scott (Kailua, Hawai'i) and Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) will team up in Dubai. Scott and Lucena have played two international events in 2008 with appearances in Adelaide, Australia, in March and Roseto degli Abruzzi, Italy, in May.
The tournament kicks off on Oct. 6 with qualification matches while the finals are scheduled for Oct. 11. More information is available on the FIVB web site.
photos Janos Schmidt