Number 1 seeds get the job done on opening day of Geelong Beach Volleyfest
Geelong Beach Volleyfest kicked off on Rippleside Beach in cool conditions on Friday, however as the action heated up, so did the weather and fans were treated to some quality from the leading teams.
The opening tournament of the 2023/24 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour saw the number one seeds first up on court in both the men’s and the women’s draws.
Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming took to centre court in chilly conditions, but were far too strong for Tandia Briggs and Leilani Burnell, while Paul Burnett and Jack Pearse accounted for Timothee Philippe and Jerome Mak.
Later in the day, Jessica Jones and Anna Donlan couldn’t get past Johnson and Fleming who are happy to get back out on the national Tour again.
“We’re really happy to be here in Geelong, this is the first time here for both of us,” said Fleming. “The setup here is amazing, the community looks lovely and it just feels good to get two wins under our belt.”
Johnson said they were wary of the breezy conditions but
“Definitely a challenge, but we trust our ball control skills to be able to deal with whatever the conditions throw at us, but it definitely adds an extra element to the game which is sometimes really fun, sometimes really frustrating,” she said.
With results holding true to form, the other top four seeds – Stefie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic, Tara Phillips and Kayla Mears and Stef Weiler and Lucia Michalovicova – all made it through day one undefeated.
Burnett and Pearse, playing on the Tour for the first time together were challenged at times by Victorians Jack Gregory and Patrick Tang, but built on their combination throughout the match to come out on top and make it two-from-two on the opening day.
“It’s always exciting in a new partnership,” said Burnett. “It’s a bit of a honeymoon phase where it’s nice to explore and see what works and have fun on the court.
“It’s been really enjoyable playing with Jack – he’s very talented, very athletic young player so I’m really enjoying it and good to get a couple of wins today.
“In my whole career it’s the first time I’ve played with someone younger than me so it’s a new experience for me playing that sort of role. I’m feeling old but enjoying it.”
Pearse said he was honoured to get the call-up to play with Burnett and is using the opportunity to develop his play and knowledge of what it takes to get to the top.
“I was super stoked to hear the news when I got it,” said Pearse. “It’s been just awesome learning from someone who’s played at the highest level, won a [Commonwealth Games] gold medal.
“It’s cool to talk to him about it and awesome to play on the court with him.”
Martin Kaufer and Ky Landers along with Matthew Abela and Tim Gregory also accounted for higher-ranked opponents to win their way through to tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Day two of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour starts at 8am and Rippleside Beach – entry is free.