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Beach, bikinis and professional volleyball come to tennis center
By SUZANNE DETAR
Dec 14, 2006 - 2:13:00 PM

Attention volleyball fans – there is another game coming to town and the competition is moving from the sand of Etiwan Park to the sand of the Family Circle Magazine Stadium.

The green clay on center court will be replaced this June by 1400 tons of sand, which will also be used to create three other volleyball courts on the grounds. And the likes of Justine Henin-Hardenne and the Williams sisters will be replaced with Olympians Holy McPeak and Stein Metzger.

Bob Moran, director of Business Development for the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center, said last week in announcing its three-year deal with the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour that volleyball is the fastest-growing professional sport in the United States.

The AVP brings a whole new meaning to PE volleyball. With Xbox and Crocs as a sponsor, it is the sport of the new millennium and of the MTV generation with its bikini-clad players, rowdy music, and equal money purse for men and women.

The AVP Charleston Open will take place this summer, June 14-17. The event will kick off with an open qualifier on Thursday, June 14, and continue with the main draw throughout the weekend, culminating with the men’s and women’s finals on Sunday, June 17. More than 150 of the world’s top men’s and women’s beach volleyball professionals will compete in the tournament to be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.

Local BE volleyball stand-out Cole Darby, who is headed to College of Charleston next year, was at the tennis center for last week’s announcement and was excited to meet her favorite player, Stein Metzger. Cole admires Metzger’s play because he "is all over the court and plays with a lot of heart."

And Metzger said he is excited "to bring the California lifestyle to the East Coast."

Darby said she "definitely plans on being there" to cheer on her favorite players before heading into Jr. Olympic competition this summer.

Holly McPeak, at 5’6”, was told she was too small for beach volleyball. Now she is the winningest player on the tour, a three time Olympian, and her play is an inspiration to all athletes.
Three-time Olympian Holly McPeak, a diminutive 5’6" player, said she too is excited to bring the tour to the Lowcountry and thrilled with the Family Circle Magazine Stadium. She said she "loved the pitch of the stadium" and that the athletes "like the fans close to the action."

In addition to getting to see world class athletes, Mayor Joe Riley said that the tour will be a "phenomenal economic benefit to Charleston," both in terms of dollars spent during the tournament and in national television exposure.

One other benefit – after a victor is crowned the sand will be moved from the tennis facility and used to replenish local parks.



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