WMVB tourney to feature aspiring pros

Duncan MacLean • Jun 29, 2018 at 1:07 AM

Hot on the heels of the wildly popular Soccer in the Sand tournament, the Grand Haven State Park will play host to another larger-than-life sporting event this weekend as West Michigan Volleyball hosts their first of three tournaments.

Now in its third year running, WMVB will see two innovations to their fun-filled doubles extravaganza. First, the addition of a professional bracket featuring AVPNext teams looking to build points for an AVP qualification. Second, the opportunity to play coed quads on Sunday, both of which build the core of what organizers Stevo Vanderwerp and Pete Goers want for the tournament.

“Introducing AVPNext this weekend is us trying to bring in some higher-level players and outside teams,” Vanderwerp said. “We will roll it right in with the juniors division and our amateur levels.

“Our favorite division to attract is still the juniors. WMVB has always been about the juniors and developing players from the ground up. We want to make sure we do a good job for the AVP players, but are most concerned with getting people out on the beach enjoying the game and building that strong future for the sport.

“The coed quads division Sunday is just to add a bit of fun to the mix, maybe attract some of the AVP players to stick around and mix in and give less serious players a chance to get on the courts. It should be a really fun atmosphere.”

The added opportunities, along with expected growth in popularity, are contributing to a record amount of teams registered to play this weekend.

“We are closing in on 90 teams for the weekend,” Vanderwerp said. “We’re no Soccer in the Sand with their 400, but for us, that is a pretty amazing number.

“People are starting to hear about it, and who doesn’t want to come to Grand Haven for a tournament? It is beautiful here. Pete and I have been fortunate enough to travel to hundreds of tournaments and have played on a lot of beaches. I would take this one over any of them.”

The AVPNext division will give local enthusiasts the opportunity to watch some aspiring professionals at work. AVPNext is a national circuit of tournaments meant to give players a better chance of breaking into the fully professional AVP circuit at regional qualifying events.

“AVPNext is a kind of developmental tour,” Vanderwerp said. “Players can earn points and prize money while trying to qualify for AVP events. They give players chasing the dream of playing at the highest level a chance to earn some seed points for the big tournaments without traveling so much.”

The Next players will be featured at WMVB’s second tournament of the summer, as well.

“If you play in both of our tournaments and a few other in the Midwest region, you will have enough points to go into a qualifier as not the last seed,” Vanderwerp added.

“It is great, definitely something I wish I had a little bit more of when I was climbing the ranks. It is great for people with the dream of playing in the AVP at the top of the game.”

Registration for the tournament closes tonight, with day-of entries receiving a $10 fee.

Men and women’s Open- AVPNext entries cost $100 per team. Check-in runs Saturday from 8-8:30 a.m. The tournament begins at 8:45 a.m. There will be no walk-up entries for the AVPNext division.

Men and Women’s doubles entries fetch a $60 fee for both A and B brackets. Check-in runs from 8-8:30 a.m. Saturday with the tournament beginning at 9 a.m.

Junior doubles entries cost $50 and will be divided into ages 12, 14, 16 and 18 brackets. Check-in for juniors runs 8:30-9 a.m. Saturday, with start time set for 9:30 a.m.

Sunday’s coed doubles entries run $50 per team, while the newly added quads tournament will cost $100 for both the AA/Open and A/B brackets. Registration runs from 9-9:30 a.m. with a 10 a.m. start time.

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