Mexico International Volleyball Tournament Celebrates 40 Years

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The Mex Volleyball fans celebrate on the sidelines.

In 1975, Billboard’s No. 1 song was Love Will Keep Us Together by the Captain and Tenille. The cost of a first class stamp was 10 cents and a gallon of gas was 40 cents. The videocassette recorder (VCR) had just been invented, and computer hobbyists Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs developed the prototype that would become the Apple I. And Scott DeKok and Deb Friedman were attending different colleges in 1975. They didnt know it, but they would meet, marry, and have a son Noah who would grow up to become the men’s champion of the 2015 Mexico International Volleyball Tournament. But that’s getting ahead of the story.

The first Mexico International Volleyball tournament was held in 1975, but its roots go back to 1973. That summer, 20 friends from San Diego and Los Angeles decided it would be fun to drive down to Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico, and hold an informal beach volleyball tournament. This proved to be so much fun that two years later the MIVT was formally launched using a draw format to keep play competitive. Players were divided into good and not so good groups, creating teams with one player from each category. And if the finals became too lopsided, tequila bottles would fly onto center court to further handicap the leaders.

The tournament moved around a bit in the early days, to sites like San Antonio Shores, Quinta del Mar, and Rene’s, before settling at the Estero Beach resort in Ensenada, where it resided for 22 years and celebrated its 20th and 30th anniversaries. The Estero Beach years also saw professional stars like Steve Timmons, Gail Castro, Brian Lewis, and Liz Masakayan compete for the trophyan old Spalding ball cut in half and mounted on a wooden plaqueand a free room at next year’s event. In 1997, the tournament reached its participation zenith with 1,678 players on 139 courts. But concerns over drug cartel violence and the erosion of Estero Beach took a bite out of the tournament, and it moved to its current home in 2007, the Papas and Beer in Rosarito Beach.

The 40th-Annual Mexico International Volleyball Tournament was held this year on June 27-28. Today, a first class stamp costs 57 cents, gas is more than $3 a gallon, and videos stream to your iPhone 6, but tequila bottles still fly onto the sand during the MIVT finals. This year’s tournament hosted 350 players. The men’s champions were Noah DeKok and Paul English who bested the father-son team of Alex Martinez and Alex Martinex Jr. On the women’s side, Elizabeth Hansell upgraded her third-place finish from 2014 to first place with partner Helen Ekadeli. They defeated finalists Esther Kim and Jean Gullickson. And the other 346 players? Theyre already looking forward to the 41st Mexico International Volleyball Tournament.

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