More than 7,000 spectators turned out over the weekend of 7 and 8 July to watch top players fight it out at the Hornby Margate Masters National Beach Volleyball Tournament.
Despite a big weekend of sport which included Andy Murray’s Wimbledon appearance, local people cheered the best field of players to appear in Margate’s six-year connection with the tournament. Ten countries were represented by 130 players who took part in the tournament’s elite men’s and women’s events.
The semi-finals were all close affairs and were watched by 800 enthusiastic spectators who enjoyed mostly excellent weather. And there were a number of surprises with lower ranked players knocking out the favourites, which added to the crowd excitement.
The women’s final took place in a torrential rain shower that temporarily emptied the two grandstands on centre court as the spectators took cover. But Denise Austin and Mel Coutts dealt best with the conditions and beat Helen Brown and Eva Czinegeova two sets to love to take the women’s title for the third successive year.
In the men’s competition, surprise finalists and tenth seeds, Ivan Vatolik and Renato Silva took on number one seeds, the Kent-based team of Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory.
Vatolik and Silva had knocked out the number two seeds in an epic semi-final match but unfortunately couldn’t continue in the final and eventually lost in a tight three-set match.
The event also hosted the Junior Beach Volleyball Tournament. Sam Walrond Joel Roberts emerged winners in a close final game against Haydn Lawson and Ben Torrens 2-0 (15-13, 15-13). Local residents displayed their enthusiasm by signing-up to take part to the recreational tournament, with ten teams competing.
A permanent beach volleyball and beach soccer court in Margate is now available for bookings and will be running local leagues and coaching sessions.
The council’s cabinet member for Tourism, Cllr Iris Johnston, said: “This has proved to be the best Margate Masters ever, and it’s wonderful that so many people turned out to offer their support.
Alex Balzaretti, London 2012 Project Director at Hornby, said: “Hornby have sponsored the Margate Masters for the past three years and it is great to see the event grow from strength to strength. As an official product supplier of the London 2012 Games, we were thrilled to be associated with an event that brings beach volleyball, an Olympic event to our doorstep.”