Scottish Success on the Far Side of the World

Scottish beach volleyball players Callum Stewart and Ross McKelvie enjoyed great success at the Beach Pro Tour Futures event at Mt. Maunganui Beach in New Zealand last weekend. The pair, who finished ninth in the tournament, were delighted with their performance and the experience they gained from competing.

Ross McKelvie has spent the last few months living, training and playing in New Zealand, while Callum Stewart arrived just a week before the competition. The pair competed in the New Zealand Beach Tour Finals, held at the same venue as the Futures event, which served as ideal preparation for the week ahead. The Scottish team won four matches on Saturday before beating a Japanese team in the semi-finals and losing to an Australian team in the final.

Prior to the Futures event, McKelvie and Stewart had been training daily with other local and international teams. The duo were seeded 11th in the main draw and played three matches in the tournament.

In their first match, they faced the sixth-seeded team of Josefson/Hood from Australia. After a slow start, they managed to build themselves into the game but the Aussies pulled ahead to take the first set with some direct hitting. A slight changed up in block defence and more aggressive serving allowed Scotland to take a lead into the technical timeout, and then working hard on the ‘bad side’ allowed them to pull away to a comfortable margin. Unfortunately a slow start in the 3rd set led the Aussies to change at 4-1 up and never gave up the lead.

Their second group game came against a Chinese team who came third at the Senior Asian Championships last year. While they were focused on the opposition, they decided to slightly change tactics and play more against the wind than the opposition. It took us a while to settle in to the game while the experienced third seeds raced away in the first set. During the second set, they both managed to regularly find the sand on the side out which allowed them to attack from the service line. After rushing in to a five point lead, the Chinese team pegged them back but still managed to take the second set 21-19. After a strong start in the third set, they continued to apply pressure in the wind, with McKelvie making a huge block to put the team 13-7 up at the change of ends before the Scottish boys took their first Beach Pro Tour Main Draw win 15-10.

Saturday morning saw much calmer conditions as McKelvie/Stewart took on the top ranked Australian team Takken/Bushby who had recently played the Elite 16 in Torquay. Their big block caused the Scots problems early on and the lack of wind saw them struggle to get any joy off the service line. When they did disrupt their pass, the defender was able to fix the set and enable them to side out. The experience gained from the tournament was valuable for the Scottish team, who felt that they still have some way to go to consistently win at this level, but left Ross and Callum with a solid training plan for the coming months to reach that level this summer. Regardless, they were thrilled with their 9th-place finish and the ranking points earned, which has provided them with strong motivation for future competitions.

McKelvie and Stewart were thrilled with the experience and were positive about their performance in the tournament. “It was amazing to have Callum join me out in New Zealand after living, training and playing at the Mount for the last six months,” said McKelvie. “We’re super stoked with a 9th place finish so early on in the season and the potential shown has got us hungry for the upcoming year.”

Stewart echoed these sentiments, saying, “When the Futures was announced for the Mount where Ross has been living we jumped at the chance to get involved. It’s given us some valuable ranking points and strong motivation ahead of a month’s training and coaching in Portugal as we look forward to the [selection for] Nation’s Cup and Futures this season with some valuable world ranking points.”

Overall, the Scottish beach volleyball team of McKelvie and Stewart performed admirably at the Beach Pro Tour Futures event held at Mt. Maunganui Beach in New Zealand. The experience gained from the competition will undoubtedly serve them well as they continue to train and compete in the future.