VOLLEYBALL: Weymouth sands to host Beach Classic

HOME FAVOURITE: Weymouth's Ryan Stout

HOME FAVOURITE: Weymouth's Ryan Stout

First published in Local Sport Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

WEYMOUTH’S golden sands will play host to some of the best beach volleyball players in the world over the next few days.

The annual RAF Weymouth Beach Classic gets underway this evening and runs until Sunday when the main trophies will be decided.

Now in its 31st year, the event is again expected to draw big crowds to the seaside town for what promises to be another action-packed occasion.

Home hopes lie with England Under-21 international Ryan Stout who reached the semi-finals of the men’s competition in 2013 – he and playing partner Matt Hunter go into the tournament as the number eight seeds.

This season has seen a number of new teams emerge in the men’s competitions, but one pair to watch is Phil Smith and Oliver Kimber.

Smith has just got back from representing England in Long Beach California on the FIVB World Tour.

Winners of the women’s event for the past two years, Laura Plonka and Gabi Medrika, pictured, will do all they can to hold on to their crown.

However, they are set to be pushed hard by a number of other teams including Lucy Boulton and Denise Austin.

They have 10 Weymouth titles between them but are playing together for the first time this year.

Another up and coming team to watch features Vicky Palmer and Jess Grimson, losing semi-finalists 12 months ago.

The main men’s and women’s competitions, part of the ITSU English Tour, begin at 9am on Saturday with the finals taking place from 3pm on Sunday.

As well as the main draw, an under-18 contest runs on Sunday.

As there is no qualifying tomorrow there will be an extra tournament aimed at developing players from Dorset and Hampshire.

Matches start at 2pm and the final is scheduled for 8pm.

Before that, the action begins this evening with the traditional Battens charity event for local businesses.

There are nine courts in all with seating for 500 people on centre court.

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