The Wimbledon Of Beach Volleyball’s Kickoff Event Recognizes Event’s Storied History
There are players on the sand before the first Bloody Marys are being served at Shellback Tavern, but the official start of the Manhattan Open, the AVP pro beach volleyball tournament known as the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball” occurs later in the day.
That is when city officials, fans and residents gather on the Manhattan Beach, CA pier for the unveiling of the plaques of the previous year’s tournament winners. The 2017 event took place on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 17, and honored 2016 winners Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar, and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson.
And the players were honored.
“Don’t walk on it!,” Day said, only half in jest as she peeled back the cover to reveal the plaque that is beach volleyball’s equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“This is so cool,” said Gibb, a three-time Manhattan Open winner. “It’s the best tradition we have in beach volleyball.”
For those who do not know, the Manhattan Open is so revered because it’s where the sport of modern-day beach volleyball originated.
The tournament dates back to 1960. In its early days, there were no grandstands as there are today. And certainly no AVP Skydeck, which is a great place to view the action if you want to pay for the privilege as opposed to watching for free on the sand or squeezing into a GA grandstand seat.
In the original days, there were die-hard indoor players and fans who took the game to the sand in Manhattan, the fans watching from beach chairs and beach towels put out by the courts. Which, by the way, still happens today on the outside courts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Over time, as a national and eventual international tour evolved, this became THE tournament to win for the players. Recognizing its contribution to the sport, Manhattan Beach began putting plaques of winners on the pier and now holds a ceremony to recognize the previous year’s winners to launch the current year’s tournament.
The 2017 Manhattan Beach Open takes place on the south side of the Manhattan Beach Pier through the weekend, with the finals being televised on NBC. The field includes Olympic Gold Medalists Phil Dalhausser on the men’s side and April Ross on the women’s side.
A fun player to watch is local Redondo Beach resident Sean Rosenthal, who is always accompanied by “Rosie’s Raiders,” the best fans in beach volleyball.
The tournament is free, tho you can purchase reserved seats, including the Skydeck.
• Everything You Need To Know About The Manhattan Open AVP