The Home Nations Junior Beach Volleyball Cup was a proposal by England’s ex-World Tour beach volleyball player and coach, Denise Austin. She is now in charge of development for the England Junior Beach Programme and started discussing the idea with me earlier this year. We quickly realised it was feasible and Denise pulled out all the stops to find people to help and get it organised.
The venue of Cardiff Beach Volleyball Club, recently set up by Carl Harwood and Mike Constantinou, was to be the venue of the Inaugural tournament and something like the NCAA setup was proposed as the format, where multiple teams formed a squad and competed against other squads. The format developed into a 2 team squad where pair 1 played against pair 1, pair 2 played against pair 2 and if the result stood at 1-1, a ‘Golden Set’ would be played to decide the contest where any 2 of the 4 players in a squad could play in this deciding set.
The age limit was under-19 to begin with but was relaxed for the first year to allow Northern Ireland and Wales to be able to send squads for this Inaugural event, with the view that we would tighten this age limit up for future years. The competition was to take place over 3 days from 6-8 August 2018 with pool play to begin with to determine seedings for the knockout stages later on.
The men’s competition was to include England (ENG), Wales (WAL), Northern Ireland (NIR) and 3 squads from Scotland, with the Scotland selections taking place after more than 2 months of training:
Pair 1: David Mexson (1) / Euan Fraser (2)
Pair 2: Cameron Hook (1) / Harris Ritchie (2)
Pair 1: Jack McKelvey (1) / Yusef Butt (2)
Pair 2: Craig Murray (1) / Jack Anderson (2)
Pair 1: Rory Russell (1) / Haydon Campbell (2)
Pair 2: Euan Armstrong (1) / Cameron Reid (2)
The women’s competition included 5 England squads, 3 Scotland squads, Wales and Northern Ireland:
Pair 1: Emma Waldie (1) / Nicole Ramage (2)
Pair 2: Heather Hamilton (1) / Kirsty Ross (2)
Pair 1: Megan Hall (1) / Fynn Donaldson (2)
Pair 2: Lisa Waldie (1) / Jessica Gilles (2)
Pair 1: Kate Renforth (1) / Karolina Wroblewska (2)
Pair 2: Juliet Pinto (1) / Emi-Mireilla Muñoz (2)
See www.inter-beach.net for photos, schedules, streams and results.
In the men’s competition, SCO1 got off to a fantastic start in pool play, being unbeaten until they faced a very strong England squad, so they finished as seed 2 going into the knockout rounds and saw them straight into a semi-final against Wales. SCO2 had to play a quarter-final against NIR but came through that to setup a semi-final against England. SCO3 had to beat Wales in the quarter-final but lost that to go into a 5/6 playoff on the final day, which they won, beating NIR with a Golden Set to come 5th.
Semi-finals and SCO2 had a tough ask but competed well against favourites, England, however a 2-0 loss put them into a bronze medal playoff. SCO1, having beaten Wales in pool play, came up just short, losing in a Golden Set 15-10 to a good Welsh pair, which set up an all Scotland bronze medal match. SCO1 proved too strong for SCO2, winning this 2-0 to take the bronze medal.
In the women’s competition there was 2 pools of 5 teams with pool play again determining positions in the knockout draw. Some very strong England pairs took 4 automatic berths in the quarter-finals with SCO1 and WAL taking another 2. The other 2 berths were playoffs between SCO2 and NIR, which SCO2 won, and SCO3 and ENG5, which ENG5 won. This put SCO3 into the 7-10 playoffs for the final day.
SCO2 headed to a quarter-final with a strong ENG2, which proved too much for the Scots, sending SCO2 into the 7-10 playoffs to face SCO3. SCO1 had a quarter-final against ENG4. Waldie/Ramage won their match and with Ross/Hamilton narrowly losing a battling 3-setter, Waldie/Ramage won a Golden Set 17-15 to put SCO1 into the semi-finals against ENG2. ENG2 was a strong team but SCO1 had a game plan that we thought would work, however ENG2 played better than they had done in the pools and took the match 2-0 to send SCO1 into the 3-6 playoffs.
SCO 2 and SCO 3 faced each other on day 3 and was a thriller! With the match balanced at 1-1, SCO3 went into the Golden Set with confidence and took it 15-10 to keep them in the competition, sending SCO2 into a playoff for 9th and 10th place.
By this stage, fitness was starting to take it’s toll on the teams and SCO2, although beating NIR earlier in the competition, lost in a Golden Set to come 10th. SCO3 played a battling Welsh squad and lost in a Golden Set to come 8th and SCO1, having beaten ENG5 and ENG4 earlier in the competition, lost to both squads to come 6th.
Over the 3 days everyone worked really hard on the sand and represented Scotland amazingly well. Everyone commented on how much they had enjoyed it and how the event has been a great showcase for beach volleyball, hopefully drawing attention of the Youth Commonwealth Games and Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 delegations.
Well done to everyone involved, to the SVA Office for their support, to our Team Managers, Yvonne and Ken for their help in organising, to coaches around the country for inspiring our junior athletes to tryout for the squads and for parents to support them in their quest for glory. A big thank you to Ross McKelvie, who took on the selection and coaching for the boys squads for the weeks running up to the event and for the event itself. Thanks also to Cardiff Beach Volleyball Centre for hosting us and to Denise Austin for her tireless work for junior beach volleyball in the UK. Last, but by no means least, thanks to Adam Paton, who travelled with us to be part of the officiating team who refereed our matches so efficiently.
An amazing event with amazing people. Looking forward to 2019 already!
We also now look forward to the CEV Small Countries Junior event on 25-26 August at Portobello Beach, where many of the same athletes will be competing.
See http://yzujgdt.cluster028.hosting.ovh.net/beach/scd-junior-beach-volleyball-finals for more information
See you on the sand!
Scotland Junior Beach Volleyball Head Coach