Pro tour hits the beach at O.C. 2-player teams vie in $75,000 event

June 26, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

The team of Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes has dominated professional beach volleyball the past two seasons.

The tandem leads the AVP/Miller Lite Tour this year in earnings ($166,937 per player) and victories (eight), but just last weekend Chicago its five-tournament winning streak was broken by the newly formed team of Randy Stoklos and Brian Lewis.

These two teams will be the featured pairs in this weekend's $75,000 Miller Lite Open in Ocean City, which begins this morning at 9. Ocean City is the 14th of 22 stops on the tour, which will travel to 22 cities and 13 states.

The tour, which began Feb. 4 in Honolulu and will end Sept. 26 in Daytona Beach, Fla., is highlighted by the $750,000 Miller Lite U.S. Championships in Hermosa Beach, Calif., on Aug. 27-29.

The double-elimination tournament features 36 teams, including four from the local area, that will compete for the $15,000 first-place prize.

Stoklos and Lewis started playing together May 22 and immediately were successful. Lewis, the tour's Most Improved Player in 1992, has jumped three spots in the rankings the past two weeks to fifth. Stoklos is ranked third.

The winningest pair of pro-beach volleyball players, Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos, seemed destined for their 11th successful year.

Over their careers, both have set substantial individual career marks. Smith leads all players in career victories with 134 and Stoklos became the first volleyball professional to top the $1 million mark in career earnings last year.

Smith, Stoklos' former partner, has dropped to 11th in the rankings and is now teamed with No. 16 Dan Vrebalovich. Their best tournament was at Seaside Heights, N.J., on June 13, when they placed third.

The teams other than Kiraly/Steffes and Stoklos/Lewis to win tournament titles this year are Adam Johnson/Bruk Vandeweghe, Tim Hovland/Mike Dodd and Smith/Stoklos.

Kiraly and Steffes set the single-season mark for consecutive victories on the tour last year with 13. Kiraly ended last season as the top-ranked player, and Steffes finished as the top money winner with $332,740.

For the first time in AVP/Miller Lite tour history, women have joined in the eight-month season. Reigning world champion Nancy Reno and 1984 Olympic silver medalist Rita Crockett are

scheduled to compete in Ocean City.

MILLER LITE OPEN

What: Miller Lite Open, two-person professional beach volleyball featuring men's and women's divisions.

Where: Ocean City at the Inlet

When: Today, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; tomorrow, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (championship match scheduled to begin at 3)

Purse: $75,000 ($15,000 to first-place team)

Tickets: Non-reserved courtside seating. Ticket prices range from $20 to $50. For more information, call (800) 793-TOUR.

?5TV: MSG Network, Tuesday, 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 5 p.m.

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