Internationals continue to make their mark on Australian beach tour

Internationals are continuing to dominate the Australian beach volleyball tour, with all but one of the eight players involved in Sunday’s gold medal matches at the Victorian Open hailing from overseas.

Australian Casey Grice and his Dutch partner, Bart Bolsterlee, claimed their second men’s tour title of the Australian summer, while Thailand’s Yupa Phukrongploy and another Dutch player, Lauri Luijken, took the women’s gold medal.

Grice and Bolsterlee beat New Zealand’s Bradley Fullerton and Paora Morungu 21-19, 21-12 at St Kilda Beach, while Phukrongploy and Luijken proved too strong for the Czech Republic’s Michaela Vorlova and Slovakia’s Lucia Michalovicova 21-15, 21-17.

Grice and Bolsterlee announced themselves as one of the team to beat when they combined to win the South Australian Open in January, and then Bolsterlee teamed with fellow Dutchman Sven Vismans to win the Queensland Open two weekends ago.

For Phukrongploy, Sunday’s win was a major breakthrough after several appearances on the Australian tour in recent summers.

Luijkin, a new face on the Australian tour, and Phukrongploy had to fight hard for their grand final berth, coming from one set down to beat Olympian Tamsin Hinchley and Australian squad member, Sarah Battaglene, 13-21, 21-18, 15-9 in their semi-final.

Vorlova and Michalovicova also had a tough semi-final, seeing off the form Australian team of the summer, Phoebe Bell and Becchara Palmer, 21-13, 8-21, 15-13.