Last weekend Edinburgh witnessed the first ever UK Beach Tour Grand Slam Series held in Scotland. The event took place on the beautiful Portobello beach under the blazing Scottish sunshine and the crowd were not disappointed as our amazing Grand Slam athletes put on a truly spectacular show!
In the women's competition it was a true underdog story with number 11 seeds Kanako Hayashi & Sophia Johnston climbing through the draw to reach their first ever Grand Slam final. However in order for the fairytale ending they had to face off against the top performing team of Julia Tokarenko & Maria Sviridova. It was a well fought match between both teams but the pairing of Julia and Maria came out on top with a 21-14, 21-12 victory and punched their ticket to the Grand Slam Finals. The bronze medal match saw the Scottish National team pairing and Edinburgh locals Katie Barbour & Rachel Morrison face the experienced duo of Aga Adamek & Giulia Rastelli. Despite the home advantage and the support of the local crowd, the Scottish pair lost out and Aga & Giulia took the bronze with a 21-13, 21-16 victory!
The men's final had the London based pairing of Aldo Rendon Peiro & Andrea Maggio face off against team Sam, Sam Dunbavin & Sam Walrond. It was shaping up to be a fantastic final and the crowds were fighting for their space around the court so they could catch a glimpse of the action. The match went to a third set and after an epic rally, Sam Dunbavin went down injured and unfortunately had to withdraw from the final. This meant Aldo & Andrea were victorious and also earned their ticket to the Grand Slam Finals in Bournemouth. The bronze medal match was an all too familiar affair with Scottish duo Ross Mckelvie & Callum Stewart facing off against UKBT veterans Mark Garcia-Kidd & JJ Van Den Bogert. Despite a valiant fight back in the second set from the Scottish pairing, it wasn't quite to be with JJ & Mark taking the medal 21-14, 21-19.
The event itself was a huge success and Scottish National Team player Callum Stewart said "It was fantastic to have the UKBT Grand Slam series come to Scotland for the first time ever in such an iconic location on the beach at Portobello. The top Scottish teams were able to put themselves up against the best players in the country. The Grand Slam Series is the biggest and best events in the UK for beach volleyball and to be able to play and compete in a Grand Slam in Scotland with the home fans cheering us on was an amazing experience. Portobello is such a busy area h the event being at the heart of the beach, we certainly introduced beach volleyball to some new fans this weekend."
A massive thank you needs to go out to all of the volunteers, officials and players for their tireless effort throughout the weekend and they can be proud that they made history. A huge shout out must go to the Scottish Volleyball Assosciation who, under the fantastic guidance of Veronica Rusich, put together a team of individuals who shaped a truly memorable event!
Next up it's the Cardiff Grand Slam on August 14th - 15th held on the iconic Barry Island Beach!
Photo Credit: volleyballphotos.co.uk (Lynne)