Canadian beach volleyball players Zeid Hamadeh and Aleksandar Borisov will never forget their first international outing.
The duo will make their debut in the International Volleyball Federation World Beach Volleyball Tour tournament which starts this afternoon with the qualifiers at the National Beach Courts in Nikao.
Borisov had not heard of the Cook Islands before and did not know what to expect when told that his first international competition would be held here.
“Everyone I told that I was coming here asked me where the place was. They also didn’t know about the Cook Islands,” the 24 year old said.
“This place is beautiful, the beaches here are wonderful. For us this is very memorable because this is our first international tournament.”
Hamadeh, 23, said the Cook Islands was a dream debut destination for them.
“Everywhere along the coast there are stunning beaches. We have a beach right next to the place we are staying, it’s perfectly isolated and beautiful. We are definitely getting a very nice vibes right away and we have just been here for only a couple of days.”
Hamadeh and Borisov will join fellow Canadians Liam Kopp and Alex Russell in the one-star men’s international event which will run until Friday.
The tournament will also have teams from Japan, USA, New Zealand, Norway, Australia, Hong Kong, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands will field two teams led by veteran player Brendon Heath, who will team up with 17 year old Raiti Herman. They will be joined in the main draw by a second pairing of Raiti’s brother Toa Herman and Arvi Enoka.
USA’s Chris Austin one of the top rated players in the tournament, is looking forward to the season opening event with high hopes for podium finish.
“Cook Islands is beautiful, it reminds us a lot about Hawaii from the United States. You don’t find a lot of place with this kind of weather in January. The backdrop setting (at the courts) is really good and the sand, they have milled it very nicely. It’s shaping into a fun event,” Austin, the US national champion setter, said.
“It’s pretty early into the season, a lot of people in California are just starting to basically warm it up for the start of the season so it’s good to get the experience here. This is a great opportunity for me.”
Austin is expecting tough competitions, especially from the fellow American team and the Canadians.
“We really have to treat everybody the same. We need to come with the mind-set that we want to take a game at a time and be very successful.
“I have three goals – make the playoffs, get to the podium and to win the tournament, this would be the perfect start for me.”
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2020 – one-star VolleyFest Cook Islands – will start with the qualification tournament today followed by the main draw from tomorrow.