IAN KEVIN RAMDHANIE
Caribbean Institute for Security
and Public Safety
T&T’s Daneil Williams and Simon Blake will be seeking to improve on their 11th place showing at the second stage of the 2013 Norceca Beach Volleyball Tour when they compete in the Boca Chica Presidente Beach Volleyball Tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from Friday until Sunday.
On the weekend, the Toco-born pairing ended 11th out of 16 men’s team in the opening tournament of the season, the fifth edition of the Cayman Islands Beach Volleyball Tournament at Seven Miles Beach, Grand Cayman.
Playing together for the first time on the circuit as teammates, Blake and Williams got off to a losing start in the four-team Pool D round-robin series on Friday at Seven Miles Beach 11-21, 14-21 to USA-2 duo Stafford Slick and Casey Jennings.
However, the T&T pair then battled past Barbadians Kyle Browne and Ronald Rice 23-21, 21-14 before suffering a 9-21, 17-21 loss to St Lucians Joseph Clercent and Julian Biscette in a virtual clash for the second main draw quarterfinal spot in the group behind the Americans.
Blake and Williams then faced off with Jamaicans Donovan Richards and Rojey Hutchison in a ninth to 16th play-off encounter which the T&T players won 21-16, 21-14 to set up a tenth place clash with Cayman Islands’ Shervin Rankin and Duncan Hamman, which the latter won 16-21, 18-21.
Williams, who normally partners another Toco-born player, Fabien Whitfield, was forced into having a new team-mate for the first tournament of the season after the latter opted out due to exams. Whitfield will once again miss the second leg in Boca Chica.
Last year on the tour, Williams and Whitfield combined for a quarterfinal showing in Cayman Islands prior to their historic bronze medal performance at home in November while Blake will be playing his second event in Boca Chica, after he teamed up with Whitfield last year in the absence of an injured Williams.
During the 2012 tour, the local pair of Williams and Whitfield earned a first ever beach volleyball medal for T&T, a bronze on home soil last November to help the locals to an overall men’s ranking of joint sixth with Puerto Rico at the end of the season.
In Boca Chica, the local women’s team of Nancy Joseph and Pauline Woodroffe will finally make their season debut on the tour after being forced to miss the opening due to the financial constraints of the T&T Volleyball Federation.
The local women earned the right to represent T&T in the Cayman Islands after topping the qualifying tournament held at Saith Park, Chaguanas, earlier this month when they defeated Ayana Dyette and Shenelle Gordon in the final of the four-team round-robin series.
For the Boca Chica leg of the tour, Canada’s Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas and Puerto Rico’s Roberto Rodriguez and Eric Haddock, winners of the first leg, will be back on the sand.
Broder and Valjas took the women’s gold medal winning over Americans Jenny Kropp and Whitney Pavlik in straight sets while Rodriguez and Haddock outlasted the USA men’s team of Todd Rogers and Ryan Doherty also in two sets.
Rodriguez will be defending the title he won last year with Orlando Irizarry. The women’s crown in 2012 went to Mexico’s Bibi Candelas and Mayra Garcia.
Will Montgomery and James Drost, who finished second to Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros in the last event of 2012 in Aruba, are one of the two American men’s teams announced to compete next weekend.
Montgomery, who also finished second in Chula Vista with Tri Bourne, claimed two consecutive gold medals in St Lucia and T&T playing with Jonathan Mesko and Antonio Ciarelli, respectively.
The USA women’s team of Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat, who claimed the bronze medal in Cayman Islands by defeating Mexico’s Candelas and Martha Revuelta, return to action in the weekend along with compatriots Brittany Hochevar and Summer Ross.
The preliminary rounds of the Boca Chica Beach Volleyball Tournament are scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday with the semifinals and medal matches on Sunday.