Cayman’s biggest volleyball tournament will showcase a new legend.
The North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation 2013 beach circuit opener takes place on Grand Cayman’s Public Beach between 22 and 24 March. Among the star participants is American Todd Rogers.
Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation Tournament Director Fareed Hosein says Rogers will garner much of the focus.
“The buzz is Todd Rogers is playing here,” Hosein said. “He’s a former Olympic gold medallist and the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball Best Defensive Player from 2006 to 2008. Again, due to the buzz about our tournament, players from NORCECA countries are very interested in coming to the Cayman Islands.
“Expect new things, more top players and more fun things for the fans.”
Rogers, 39, comes to Grand Cayman after forming a new playing partnership. At the start of the year, he broke away from Phil Dalhausser, 33, after seven years and now plays alongside Ryan Doherty, 28. Rogers and Dalhausser were a potent combo, winning the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2007 FIVB World Championship and the 2010 FIVB World Tour Championship.
Doherty, who is about 7 feet tall, is relatively new to the sport after pursuing a career as a professional baseball pitcher until 2007, when he was released from the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system.
Cayman is hosting the annual NORCECA tour opener for the fifth straight year and each time, more visiting players have made their way here to join the competition. In 2012, 42 squads came here; 2011 produced 40 teams; 24 clubs stormed these shores in 2010 and 17 sides started it all off in 2009.
Hosein says conservative estimates point to the 2013 tournament keeping the trend going.
“As of now, I can only estimate 35 teams are coming along with 15 NORCECA delegates and officials,” he says. “We are expecting to have three Cayman men’s teams and two women’s teams.”
A number of powerhouse countries have competed here including the US, Canada and Mexico and the event has become a staple of the Cayman sports scene and the sports tourism line up.
In 2012, Roberto Rodriguez and Erick Haddock of Puerto Rico along with Mexican ladies Bibiana Candelas and Mayra Garcia went through the tournament undefeated. The runners-up were Samuel Schachter and Maverick Hatch of Canada on the men’s side and Marta Revueltas and Vanessa Virgen of Mexico for the ladies.
London Olympians Joshua Binstock and Martin Reader placed third for the Canadian men’s team with Puerto Rico’s Yarleen Santiago and Yamileska Yantin earning bronze for the women.
Cayman had a good showing as host nation as Shervin Rankin and Richard Campbell advanced to the quarterfinals. The other male tandems of Philippe Deslandes and Duncan Hamann along with Andrew Gordon and Olney Thompson were eliminated during group play. The lady pair of Jennifer Bily and Cristin Alexander were knocked out in the preliminary stages.
Cayman is one of 17 tour stops in 2013, an increase from 11 in 2012. Prize money is expected to go up to US$16,000 per event. After Cayman, action is expected to shift to the Dominican Republic (27 March to 1 April) and Guatemala (17 to 22 April).