41st Annual Mexico Classic Draw tournament

aka Estero Beach

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More than 500 players made their annual pilgrimage south of the border this past weekend to Papas & Beer in Rosarito, Mexico, for the 41st annual Mexico Classic beach volleyball tournament.

And when you read the requirements below, you’ll get an idea of the flavor of this fun gathering.

The Mexico Classic is thought to be the largest draw tournament in the world. Players sign up as individuals and are assigned partners based on a weighted draw. As a result, the tournament is unique in that you don’t need to be an elite player to win.

The tournament requires an unusual combination of skills because players must:

Either be a great player (like this year’s participant and former pro beach player Paul McDonald, or current player Leah DeKok) and draw a good player, or be a good player and draw a great player.

Possess the ability to survive the Papas & Beer player party, and be able to play well on 3-4 hours sleep.

Possess the ability to play well enough while being plied significant amounts of tequila (if the crowd perceives that you are playing too well, a tequila bottle is thrown out on the court as an equalizer.

The men’s winner was a Mexican father-son team this year (allowed to play by committee rule). The Sanays played consistent sideout volleyball, and defended well. It probably didn’t hurt that they’ve known each other since birth, or that the son was under age, and was asked to imbibe milk instead of tequila.

The women’s winner was Lisa Browne of Houston, Texas, and Maddie Lord of San Diego. Lisa, a self described “A” player, played solid volleyball despite the nerves of playing in front of a large crowd.

“Mex Volleyball is my favorite beach volleyball tournament. I haven’t missed a tournament in 15 years. It’s so much fun. it’s well worth the trip from Houston, Texas!” said Browne. “I never dreamt I’d ever win! At half my age, Maddie was an amazing partner – so talented and so fun!

“It was really incredible playing in front of such a huge crowd. I’ll always remember the dog pile after we won. I already can’t wait until next year!”

“I had a great time playing with Lisa in Rosarito!,” said Lord, an Open level player. “It was an amazing experience and such an honor to be able to take part in the traditions that make this tournament so special.”

More information on the tournament can be found here:

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Ed Chan is the Publisher/Director of Photography at VolleyballMag.com. Ed has been involved in the sport for nearly 40 years as a photographer, facility owner, official, coach, and player.

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