Top Guns offers rare chance to see international talent in Southern California
Five times. That’s it. Just five times in Taiana Lima’s extensive beach volleyball career, one that began in 2002 and continues through what is now technically the 2019 season, had she competed in a professional event in California. Four were in Long Beach, one in Huntington this past May.
It’s ironic it should be that way, that one of Brazil’s all-time greats, who was named the FIVB’s Most Improved in 2010 and, three years later, laid claim to Team of the Year and Tour Champion, would have only played in the epicenter of beach volleyball on just five occasions.
And yet, in the previous two months alone, she’ll have added two more California-based events to that list, with another likely to come less than a year from now.
In p1440’s debut event in San Jose in September, Lima partnered with the Netherlands’ Jolien Sinnema, who had previously only competed twice in California. Together, the odd Brazilian-Dutch mashup took third, falling to eventual champions Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson of Canada in the semifinals, 21-18, 20-22, 8-15.
Later this month, Lima will be back again, competing in p1440’s third event, Top Guns, which has hauled in 16 of the best players in the world of each gender in an effort to compete in Huntington Beach for the claim of the “Top Guns” in beach volleyball.
Opportunity does not begin with the letter “P.” Nor is it one of p1440’s four pillars – competition, development, health and wellness, and entertainment.
Yet it is one of the foundational blocks of the new event series in its first year. And opportunities with p1440 indeed abound, for players and fans alike. Players of all nationalities have had three additional events this season with three different formats, four if you include Huntington Beach being split into two.
There was San Jose, a 24-team double-elimination draw in which players could team up with any nationality, hence Lima and Sinnema being able to compete together, no different than American Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre.
Then there was Las Vegas, a four-star FIVB, an Olympic qualifier, which featured 32 teams and a launching pad for those seeking a quick start to the Olympic race, which will begin in earnest this January at The Hague.
And now there’s Huntington, pitting 16 of the best against one another while also adding a 24-team modified pool play draw for the “Young Guns.”
Yes, opportunities for players abound, not just to play more events, but to play more events here, in California, the very place beach volleyball was founded. Similar to Lima, Pedro Solberg, another Top Guns candidate, has competed in California sparingly, just six times in a career that also began in 2002. Similar to Lima, Solberg will now be competing locally twice in the past two months.
Likewise, this is an opportunity for fans, the ones who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see these Brazilians and Dutch and Canadians compete too often, if ever. Lest they travel to Fort Lauderdale, site of an annual FIVB Major, p1440’s events are likely the only occasions in which they can watch, up close, players like Lima or Solberg, without traveling internationally.
And, at the moment, there remains exactly one tournament in which to watch a format as unique as the Top Guns: Huntington Beach from November 30-December 2.
Headed to Huntington? RSVP to the event here!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE