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Seafront hosts top beach volleyball action

Volleyball acton

Top volleyball aces served up sporting action on the golden sands of Gorleston-on-Sea at the weekend. The resort hosted the opening round of the Volleyball England Beach Tour, with 46 competitors – some of them national players – putting their spiking and blocking skills to the test.

England pair and last year’s women’s champions Vicky Palmer and Jessica Grimson won the women’s competition with Christoph Datler and Mark Baechli taking the men’s crown.

Both won their finals in straight sets, and were unbeaten over the weekend, which was supported by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District and Great Yarmouth Borough Council in their drive to attract more visitors.

The tour also aims to showcase the sport of volleyball to the public in the hope they would take up or follow the sport, said event director Mark Kontopoulos.

The Gorleston event was very successful, with a crop of top players providing some good action, and plenty of people using the “have a go” court to try their hand at the sport.

“We have a good crop of young players in the UK, but we want to encourage more people to join using the Beach Tour to introduce them to the sport, and then encouraging them to try indoor volleyball in the winter too,” he said.

While there were no Olympic players on the tour, there were some up and coming competitors who were likely to figure in the future.

Mr Kontopoulos praised the Gorleston venue which opens the tour season.

“The beach is perfect – level, with soft sand, and we get great support from the town,” he added.

The weather was showery on Saturday but fine on Sunday and did not affect play as the tour made its 12th visit to the Greater Yarmouth area.

Women’s winners Vicky Palmer and Jessica Grimson, from Bournemouth, beat Eva Holt and Katya Gless from Brighton and London 2-0 (21-10, 21-19) in the final.

Christoph Datler and Mark Baechli beat fellow Londoners Phil Smith and Tomek Lasocki 2-0 (21-13, 23-21) to win the men’s title.

Other good performances saw England under-21 teenagers Harry Jones and Rob Poole reach the men’s semi-finals, while Anaya Evans, 17 and fourteen-year-old Ellie Austin came a creditable fifth in the women’s competition before going on to win the female junior title on the Sunday. Brothers Javier and Joaquin Bellow won the male juniors.

The tour now heads to Skegness (July 9-10), Weymouth (July 30-31), Bridlington (August 6-7) before the finals at Margate on August 20-21.

Anyone interested in finding out more about volleyball should email the Norfolk Volleyball Association who have a list of contacts for clubs in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. 

Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement District chairman Gareth Brown said: “We are always pleased to host this exciting event which brings top quality sport to our shoreline.

“It introduces visitors to a great sport, taking place on our superb sands, and the crowds who come in also provide a boost to local attractions and traders. The event is a winner all round.”

Gorleston-on-Sea beach is playing host to another major sporting event next month. The National School Sailing Association regatta will make its first ever visit to Norfolk, bringing hundreds more competitors, supporters and onlookers to the shore and seafront from July 24-29.