A weekly look at what’s happening in beach volleyball:
The drinks were flowing. The food was downright delectable. And Mark Schuermann, the AVP’s affable emcee throughout the season and during Saturday’s awards banquet, was really, really sad.
He had just been informed that his former coach, John Mayer, had retired from beach volleyball after 13 seasons on the AVP Tour.
Mayer, of course, retired in Mayer style — quiet, no announcements, no social media splash, just a silent fade into a brilliant Southern California sunset. He didn’t have a speech prepared, though Schuermann requested him to speak anyway, and in the few minutes that he did have the mic, it was vintage Mayer. He thanked everybody else. He opted not to run through his lengthy list of accomplishments, which include four domestic wins and another 10 finals. He didn’t mention his two FIVB gold medals in his final season. Not brought up, either, were the 2009 Most Improved or the 2015 Most Valuable Player or the 2015 Best Defensive Player.
Just thanks, gratitude, a shift in focus.
No longer playing, Mayer will now have time to focus entirely on his duties as the head coach at LMU, a program he is turning around in a hurry. And now he has the time to pursue a new venture: private beach volleyball coach.
Of little surprise, he already has clients, his first being his fellow Coach Your Brains Out podcast host Billy Allen and his old/new partner, Stafford Slick.
Olympic mixups begin: Yes, you read that right. After a successful 2017 season together, in which Allen and Slick won AVP Seattle and made the finals in New York and San Francisco, all in a row, they split. Slick turned to Casey Patterson, Allen to Ryan Doherty.
Neither partnership seemed to peak and sustain it, though Allen and Doherty had a narrow miss in the Hermosa Beach finals. So they’re reverting back to their old flames: Allen has returned to Slick, and Doherty to John Hyden, with whom he played in 2017, capping the season with a win in Chicago.
Where the remainder of the dominos fall is yet to be seen. At the moment, the top-tier U.S. partnerships look like this, which is, of course, subject to change at a moment’s notice:
- Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena
- Taylor Crabb, Jake Gibb
- Billy Allen, Stafford Slick
- John Hyden, Ryan Doherty
- Reid Priddy, Jeremy Casebeer
- Tri Bourne, Trevor Crabb
Where Patterson and Theo Brunner turn to will be a point of interest in the weeks to come. Surely it won’t take long, given a four-star event at The Hague and the Fort Lauderdale Major loom in January and February, respectively.
In non-American volleyball partnership news, Brazilians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima will resume a partnership. Talita took a maternity leave during the 2018 season after giving birth to her son, Renato, in June.
Allen writes: Earlier this week, Allen joined the tight-knit club of beach volleyball players doubling as authors, publishing his debut novel, Good Blood: The descendants of Terene. You can buy the book on Amazon. Here’s the synopsis of the novel, which Allen plans on turning into a trilogy:
“Is his blood a gift to the world, or a curse that could destroy it?
In the world of Terene, fate is determined by your blood. For Descendants carrying the healing blood of their ancestors, it is a life sentence. Enslaved by the ruling nobles, their blood is harvested to both power the nation and keep them weak. But after centuries, the bloodline is dwindling.
The Highfather of the Faith seeks an alternative to rule the world. Against him, a band of cutthroat rebels fights to free their people. Caught in the middle is one boy on a desperate journey to uncover his past. In his veins, he holds the power to change the word.
But he doesn’t know it yet…
Good Blood is an exciting, fast-paced debut. The next must-read fantasy series!”
P1440 changes: Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan, Qatar’s No. 1 team, were, in a word, beat. Beat in the sense that they had just lost to Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai at p1440 Las Vegas, yes, but also in the sense that their bodies and minds were, simply, beat, exhausted after a season that began in January and stretched all the way to October – with an upcoming event in January not too far around the corner.
“We need rest,” Tijan said. “An off-season.”
They are not alone. With the vast majority of international players feeling a similar sentiment, p1440 condensed its schedule, dropping from four events to three, pushing San Diego back one year and moving Huntington Beach up two weeks, to the original San Diego time slot.
As was planned for the San Diego event, Huntington Beach will be two events in one, a unique package that blends a King of the Beach style – or “Top Gun,” in this case – format with the top 16 players of each gender from around the world.
The other event will feature the best of the rest, coined “Young Guns,” as it is likely to feature a cadre of the country’s up-and-coming talent in the world, in a 24-team double-elimination draw. The draw will consist of 20 invitational teams and four out of a pair of satellite qualifiers, both of which will take place next weekend, one run by the Tampa Bay-based Beach Bums organization, the other in Huntington Beach, run by the CBVA.
The format will remain the same as the satellite qualifiers for San Jose: single-elimination, with two teams earning a main draw berth from each gender.