Top seeds in fine form
By GREG WHITE
IN a dream outcome for organisers the top seeds defeated the No. 2 seeds in both the men's and women's finals of the Subway Easter Open beach volleyball tournament at Coffs Jetty beach yesterday.
Hannah Rohkamper and Eileen Romanowski defeated Larrie Busch and Kathy Stanek 21-13, 21-19 in the earlier decider but in the men's division the final ended in a nailbiting third set.
No. 1 pairing of Victor Anfiloff and Andy McCombe looked certain to breeze past opponents Shanon Zunker and James Carey after taking the opening round 21-13.
But the underdogs fought back in front of a huge spectator gallery to equalise 21-18.
The top seeds responded to the scare they'd received and wasted no time in cleaning up the third stanza 15-9.
Anfiloff, the four - time Australian representative and pro tour veteran said he'd been 'blown away' by what had been achieved in a short space of time.
"It was only nine weeks ago that (organiser) Stuart Jemesen started this event and what he's achieved in that period is mindboggling.
"Stuart has come back from the United States, grabbed hold of this massive undertaking and put it together from nothing.
"From finding the venue to contacting the competitors and sponsors and making it all work is unbelievable."
In describing it as the best event he'd experienced in New South Wales, Anfiloff said the word had spread like wildfire among competitors and future events were likely to attract the cream of the sport.
"The locals have responded to it and we'll come back to repay you."
After his mammoth nine weeks of activity including rebuilding the venue after big seas washed away the established courts, Jemesen is relieved the weekend is over.
"Ben Payne from the Sports Unit warned me I'd crash and probably sleep for four days and that's how I'm starting to feel right now," he said.
Jemesen believes this first event is merely a preview to what can become a virtual 'beach volleyball industry' in the city.
"It's a showcase where we can go to elite competitors, sponsors and the national media and say if this is what Coffs Harbour can do in nine weeks, imagine what we can do with nine months of planning.
"We now have to get cracking with introducing the sport to schools, getting competitions established and making it a year long activity, not just one big event at Easter."
A number of interstate administrators were at the Jetty to observe the tournament.
"What's pleasing was the crowds had an understanding of the scoring and how tactics are employed in the match," one said.
"Work on multiplying that through the local community and you'll have a huge international event here in no time at all."