The tournament got underway with the men’s pool matches on Saturday (Dec 23), with the women’s joining the program on Sunday (Dec 24), culminating in the men’s and women’s finals late Sunday afternoon.
In all there were 20 teams competing in the men’s competition and eight teams competing in the women’s.
Denis Phridovsky of Russia and his teammate and Kostya of the Ukraine (full names not required for entry into the competition) secured their title as men’s champions, claiming their B10,000 in prize money.
Runners-up were “Beer” Khamkeah of Thailand and “Ivan” of Russia, winning B5,000 for the second-place prize. Third were Donny Sumalee (Thai) and Big Dima (Rus), winning B3,000.
In the Women’s competition, Eliza of Russia and May Mei Wong of Hong Kong secured their place as champions, winning B2,000 in prize money.
Nata and Elena of Russia won B1,200 for their place as runners-up, while Thai duo Sirinya and Bee won B800 for placing third.
Although it is early days, Phuket Beach Open Tournament Director Yupa Phukrongploy, a former Thailand National Team player now retired after 12 years of professional tournament play, is continuing her drive to put Phuket on the map for quality beach volleyball competitions.
“I just set up the Phuket Beach Volleyball Club after I retired from the Thailand national team and moved to Phuket. I also do some coaching for tourists and some pros who come to Phuket for training,” Ms Yupa explained to The Phuket News.
“Currently our Facebook page has only 775 Likes, which is not that much, but lots of people come to Phuket, and many are looking for a place to play beach volleyball – and the best place to play is Karon Beach,” she said.
“We set up the net every day and all players are welcome to join us. Karon Beach is a very popular place for volleyball,” Ms Yupa added.
However, Ms Yupa is hoping for the international spotlight to shine on Phuket once again for beach volleyball, as it did when the FIVB competitions were held on the island.
“We hope that they (the FIVB tournaments) will return to Phuket soon,” Ms Yupa said.
Yet organising sanctioned events seems to be some distance in the future, especially as financial support has yet to arrive – as exemplified by the Phuket Beach Open, for which all entry fees were used to provide the prize money and the medals presented. All other contributions were voluntary.
“At this stage we are not sure when we will be able to hold another major tournament as we have no sponsors. We really need sponsors to help us get major tournaments going,” Ms Yupa concluded.