Cayman will boost Olympic champ

Todd Rogers has done it all as an Olympic gold medallist in beach volleyball.

Yet his recent visit to the Cayman Islands will be remembered as the occasion when his new partnership with Ryan Doherty became firm; possibly firm enough to win another world title.

“We only had a few weeks to train before coming to Cayman, which is one of the things I liked about that tournament,” Rogers said. “It gave you a chance to work on things.

“I got a lot of little things we can work on from coming here, for example, Ryan’s serve. If that was all we got out of coming here, I’d be happy. I see this thing as a big puzzle: many things have to fit together to realize the big picture.”

Rogers and Doherty competed at Public Beach for the first time last month at the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation 2013 beach circuit opener. The American duo would place second overall, taking home US$1,700. The event winners, for the second straight year, were Roberto Rodriguez and Eric Haddock of Puerto Rico.

The Cayman teams did good. The female pairing of Jessica Wolfenden and Stefania Gandolfi finished sixth after advancing to the quarterfinals and losing to eventual champions Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas of Canada. Wolfenden and Gandolfi placed second in their group behind silver medal winners Jennifer Kropp and Whitney Pavlik of the US.

Jennifer Bily and Cristin Alexander ended up 13th out of 15 squads after being eliminated in the tournament’s consolation bracket by Diana Romero and Maria Vargas of El Salvador.

For the men, Shervin Rankin and Duncan Hamann placed 10th after losing to Puerto Ricans Hector Soto and Victor Rivera in the consolation bracket. In the opening round, Rankin and Hamann beat fellow Cayman players Richard Campbell and Philippe Deslandes, who finished in 13th place.

Rogers and Doherty will now look to continue playing on the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball Beach Volleyball World Tour 2013. That competition launches in Shanghai, China on 30 April, featuring 10 tour stops over 10 months and $7.5 million in prize money.

Rogers states Doherty is putting in the work to have success on the tour.

“This year, the focus is on the world tour. At the end of April it’s in China, at the end of May it’s in Argentina before going to Europe in June. After that there are different stops and we’ll train between those stops.

“Ryan and I are great, he’s an easy going, peaceful and attentive guy. On the beach, we have kind of a coach-player relationship. It’s about being on the same page and learning what we do right.

“He’s really a hard worker and he’s willing to go out there and do everything.”

Rogers, 39, has played with Doherty less than six months after Rogers broke away from Phil Dalhausser, 33. Doherty, 28, 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.

Doherty, who is about 7 feet tall, states he is in a favourable position.

“The NORCECA tour has a lot of different teams who are getting chances to play,” Doherty said. “With the players, a lot of them are in the same stage as I am, starting out after lots of chances for development.

“With Todd, I’m starting out with an Olympic champion and it’s as lucky for me as I could ever get. I didn’t know if I would like him personally but he’s been great. He knows more about the game than anyone.”

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