For many beach volleyball players, competing against the world's elite on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour is a dream. For those athletes, that dream is closer to becoming a reality than ever before thanks to the AVP Next tournament series.
"It takes kids from the college level, and they get to play against some of the semi-pros and professionals and whoever wins our region our representative, the 50th state, that's going to be a great opportunity," said Tournament Director and former AVP Pro Kevin Wong. "There's a very good chance they could be at the bottom of the seed, so first round we could easily see them playing against Keri Walsh-Jennings, we could see them playing against gold medalists and I'm stoked because it looks like there's going to be a good mix of some veteran Hawaii people with some young juniors who might get a chance to play on the big stage."
The tournament series not only serves as a bridge from the amateur to professional level, but also as a developmental tool for Hawaii's youth players.
"We're pretty far away from the California coast and where all the top players are playing," said Spike and Serve coach Kaui Salzman. "It's really, really nice for the kids to have something to look forward to, gain some points so that when they do fly out there in the summer and compete they're in the rankings as well.
According to Wong, AVP Next could prove to benefit much more than just the athletes competing.
"It's about planting our flag here in Hawaii and saying 'hey, we can attract some bigger worldwide kind of events, we can bring some more heat some more energy working a lot with the tourism authority on how we can build events here.'"
The fourth tournament of the five-event series will be held this Saturday and Sunday at the Outrigger Canoe Club.
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