PHOTO: AVP Atlantic City qualifiers Emily Day (tipping) Day and Summer Ross. Photos by Mpu Dinani/A-Game Photography
Atlantic City, N.J. – Day One of the DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational kicked off with the Qualifiers where locals and top beach volleyball players competed for a spot in tomorrow’s Main Draw. Under a clear blue sky, the action took place on the newly erected volleyball courts located next to the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel, which opened in October 2012 after a redevelopment partnership with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), the City of Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Alliance and Caesars Entertainment’s Showboat Atlantic City Hotel & Casino.
In the first match of the day, the Johnston sisters, Devon and Rachel (Moorestown, N.J.), faced the No. 1 seed Summer Ross (San Diego, Calif.) and Emily Day (Torrance, Calif.), where they fell in two sets 21-11, 21-13. Devon and Rachel, a former Amazing Race 17 contestant, both found themselves gain more confidence after playing together consistently over the past year.
“I was actually very excited to play together with Rachel, said Devon. “Just to say that we’ve played in the AVP qualifiers together is awesome and if we had to play a higher seed, we would rather it be Emily and Summer,” said Rachel.
As the day continued, fans began filling the stands and Boardwalk, swarming Atlantic City’s volleyball courts in an effort to extend Labor Day weekend and to witness the athletes vie for a piece of the $100,000 prize purse. With each point, each team edged one step closer to claiming the DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational, the fourth stop on the 2013 AVP tour. The vacant lot-turned-volleyball courts began hosting the best athletes in the world at the beginning of this year and are open all season for regional leagues, visitors, players of all types and professional athletes.
Another local New Jersey team, Jameel Epps (Absecon, N.J.) and Robert Griffiths (Carteret, N.J.) competed as first-time partners against the No. 2 seed of Kevin McColloch (Solano Beach, Calif.) and Ed Ratledge (Fountain Valley, Calif.), who bested them in two sets 21-11, 21-12.
“I started out a little tense. It was a tough match but we came here to play and have fun, so Robert and I both stepped up mentally and physically,” said Epps. “We played against Ed Ratledge and Kevin McColloch and it was a great match. I just wanted to thank God, Mike Feely - the GM of ACVB for the sponsorship, my local friends, coaches and partner Rob.”
AVP Cincinnati winners and the top-seeded team of Day and Ross advanced on to tomorrow’s Main Draw defeating Heather Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.) and Lane Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) in three close sets, 19-21, 21-19 and 15-10.
On the men’s side, Adrian Carambula (Miami, Fla.) and Stafford Slick (Andover, Minn.) became the only team to move on to the main draw after defeating the No. 2 seed of Kevin McColloch (Salano Beach, Calif.) and Ed Ratledge (Fountain Valley, Calif.) in two, 21-12 and 21-17.
“We took a risk coming to play in this tournament since only one team would advance but we felt confident and took every team down in two,” said Slick. “This is my first time to Atlantic City and I like what I see so far - the court set up is beautiful and the view is amazing.”
Carambula added, “We’re looking forward to play whichever team they put in front of us. We’re having a lot of fun, and when you’re having fun you don’t think, you just play.”.
Qualifying rounds wrapped up with beautiful East Coast sunshine on the beach volleyball courts courtesy of the partnership between the CRDA and the ACA under the Master Plan initiative to activate vacant areas within the Tourism District by creating additional, free, non-gaming attractions in Atlantic City.
For a complete list of today’s results and brackets, visit: avp.com/stats/do-ac-invitational-statistics.
The action continues tomorrow morning, Saturday, Sept. 7 with Main Draws beginning at 10 a.m. Admission is free-to-public.
Finals for the DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational will take place on Sunday, Sept. 8 with the Men’s Final beginning at 2 p.m. PT and Women’s Final beginning at 3 p.m.
Sponsors of the 2013 DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational include Atlantic City Alliance, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), Paul Mitchell, Showboat Atlantic City, Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic Club, Resorts Casino, Tropicana, Caesars, Golden Nugget, Revel, Trump Plaza, Borgata, Harrah’s, Bally’s and more.
For more information on the DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational, go to avp.com/events/atlantic-city.