p1440 Junior Elite tourney in Gulf Shores features next wave of talent

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Wednesday was gorgeous in Gulf Shores as setup was near completion/Eric Bouscher photo

If you want a glimpse of some of this year’s top collegiate talent, take a look at what’s happening in Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend, where Florida State is hosting, among others, nationally ranked programs in Stetson, TCU, Cal Poly, and South Carolina.

If you want a glimpse at the next generation of top collegiate talent, take a look at what’s happening in Gulf Shores, Ala., annually the site of the NCAA Championships and home to a p1440 Junior Elite Tournament this weekend.

Nearly 40 athletes who are committed to college programs will be participating in the three-day event, which “will be as high a level of juniors beach Volleyball you will see this winter anywhere in the country,” said Rob Long, who is the Juniors Programming Director at p1440. “The top teams will definitely be National Championship contenders during the busy July West Coast championship month this summer beginning with the p1440 National Championships July 1, 2 and 3.”

The Gulf Shores event spans three days, the first being a four-hour Elite training camp featuring 20 coaches and, Long says, “is as important to the p1440 Elite player development model as the actual tournament play. The training is focused on higher level beach strategy and concepts for the girls to really dig into over the four hours and hopefully put in play during the tournament.”

The tournament begins on Saturday, with what is called “power pool” play, in which the first pool features the top four seeds, the second five through nine, and so on and so forth. Power pool play concludes with a challenge match, in which the top two teams compete for seeding in the gold division. Teams three and four will compete for a spot in the gold division while the loser of the match will fall to the silver bracket.

“Power pools really offer the participants the opportunity to play each game at their highest competitive level,” Long said. “Our chant is ‘Every point, every set of every match contended.’”

Day three, then, is left for a single-elimination tournament to cap a packed winter beach volleyball weekend.

“Another fun part of what we do is offering the athletes the option of staying in team housing,” Long said. “The opportunity to collectively hang out with you peers in the beach game really makes for the start of some great relationships off the court.”

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