Australia's best juniors head to Perth for national titles

More than 100 teams from throughout Australia will take part in the Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Championships starting this week on Perth’s Scarborough Beach.

The four-day event, starting April 6, will see athletes in age groups from U15 to U19 competing for the title of Australian junior champions.

The competition is being run by Volleyball WA in conjunction with Volleyball Australia. VA President, Craig Carracher, said it is an important time for the sport in Australia.

“Beach Volleyball in Australia has undergone considerable development post Rio, as we prepare for Gold Coast 2018 and Tokyo 2020,” he said.

“A new coaching structure, the introduction of new Centres of Excellence nationwide and a new National Pathways Program will provide to our junior and development beach volleyball athletes an exciting future in our sport.

“Each of you are part of that momentum for growth and improvement.”

Carracher said it’s exciting to see the growth of volleyball in Australia, a sport that is truly gender-equal, non-contact, and played around the world.

“Volleyball is experiencing a renewed enthusiasm in Australia and globally, following the success of the Rio Olympics,” he said.

“We are also excited by the inclusion of the inaugural beach volleyball competition in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018. This also creates Youth Commonwealth Games participation opportunities in 2017.”

The Australian Junior Championships have proved a strong starting point for athletes before heading on to the senior tour.

Marcus Ferguson and Paul Burnett, who with their partners won gold and silver respectively in the U19’s at last year’s AVBVC, teamed up earlier this year to win the Asian U21 gold medal in Thailand.

And the 2016 U19 women’s title holders, Victoria’s Carrie Van Rensburg and Rebecca Ingram, are consistently strong performers on the Australian senior beach tour, and will be out to defend their title this weekend.

They will face a tough challenge from last year’s U17 title holders, Tiaan Smith and Indiana Hawkins, while the local charge will be led by Waverley Burling and Tara Macuipa.

Queensland’s Mark Nicolaidis and Brad Sting, winners in the U17 category last year, will be competing in the U19 this weekend

As well as individual competition, the Andy Burdin Shield will also be awarded this weekend to the champion state. Queensland won the 2016 title, and will once again have a strong team competing over the coming four days.

This year’s event will also have an international flavour, with an U17 men’s and women’s team competing from new Caledonia.

Competition begins on Thursday, April 6, and runs through until Sunday, April 9.

Volleyball WA is proudly supported by major sponsors the WA Department of Sport and Recreation, Alcohol.thinkagain and Volleyball Australia.