Professional Beach Volleyball in Cincinnati, Sep 3-5, 2010
FULL DETAILS AT : http://volleyball.org/2010Cincinnati/
Top beach volleyballers playing here this weekend
Although the Association of Volleyball Professionals national beach volleyball tour shut down Aug. 13 because of financial woes, many of its top players are participating in a weekend tournament at the new Hahana Beach facility in Columbia Township.
Several Olympians - including Phil Dalhausser, Todd Rogers, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh - are among the contenders in the Pro Beach Volleyball Players Championship.
Eight teams per gender will compete on Hahana Beach's 1,500-plus seat Stadium Court today through Sunday for a split of an $80,000 purse.
Credit for the event largely goes to Reach Event Marketing officials, who determined the show would go on regardless of the AVP's status. Led by president Bob Slattery and director Mario Cicchinelli, Reach secured sponsorships, took care of players' housing and furnished prize money.
Rogers and several other Olympians are also business partners with an entity called Olympian Parks, the umbrella for Hahana Beach and other future beach volleyball complexes.
But the event won't exactly mirror its Cincinnati predecessors. Without the AVP's support, the field has been pared down and the purse has been slashed from former tour norms of $200,000.
"We got wind that there were some issues with the AVP maybe a month before it folded, but there was still nowhere near enough time to react accordingly and really do what we needed to do," Cicchinelli said.
"It's a good thing we have great relationships with the top players. The decision was made by Bob Slattery to continue, and now the best of the best are coming to play in the new venue."
The tournament was previously held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, where more than 3,000 tons of sand were trucked in and out in a short time frame.
Slattery went forward with Hahana Beach construction in May. The 6-acre facility features a restaurant, bar and six courts intended for year-round recreational use.
Rogers said Slattery and Cicchinelli are the main reasons he's returning for the pro event. Travel considerations would normally deter the Californian from competing in a smaller-dollar tournament.
"They've been big supporters of beach volleyball for six years, and every year the event has gotten better and better. It's been a tough time for them," Rogers said. "But they came up with about half the prize money and I think all the players are very thankful. We kind of said, 'We'll support you. You kind of got (jilted) like we did.' "
The AVP's prognosis appeared grim to Rogers and others throughout the year, and Rogers knew that smaller sponsorships weren't enough to buoy the organization. He signed up for international tournaments knowing he could "withdraw and support the AVP" if necessary.
Rogers competed in 12 European events this year. He normally plays in five.
Still, he believes a U.S. beach volleyball tour could succeed. Rogers said the key is finding the right business model, and one option is the promoter-model Cincinnati exemplifies. It relies on a local organizer and local connections.
Walsh said a tour may not return with the gusto of recent years, but there's enough interest nationally for a scaled-back series.
"I know someone is going to come in and make it right. I feel like the sport is on such an upward track," Walsh said. "Once we find the right business situation, someone could come in and would just be remarkable. The right fit is out there."
Walsh recently gave birth to her second son, Sundance, and has not played in an event since the 2009 AVP Crocs Tour Tournament of Champions at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. She planned to make a comeback in August before the AVP's fiscal straits derailed her plans.
Like Rogers, she committed to Cincinnati to show gratitude to Slattery and Cicchinelli. She also wanted to avenge her early exit in the Tournament of Champions.
"Last year at the Cincinnati event, I played terrible. I want to erase that," Walsh said.
April Ross and Jen Kessy won the 2009 Cincinnati women's final. John Hyden and Sean Scott claimed the men's title.
Volleyball World Wide