With sand beneath her feet and volleyball in her hand, April Ross surveys the scene. While the two-time Olympic medalist is more focused on where to place her next serve, New York City’s skyline, including the massive One World Trade Center, dominates the landscape and the Hudson River complements it in this unique professional beach volleyball event.The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) hosted its annual New York City Open on Piers 25 and 26 from June 8-11. The tournament, the first in the tour’s new Gold Series, drew an event-record 29,500 patrons over four picture-perfect days.
“It is unique; it’s very picturesque,” said Ross, who won the women’s title with partner Lauren Fendrick. “We’ve always had amazing weather when we’ve been out here. The backdrop is amazing. I also love that it’s on a pier and there’s water surrounding us.”
It was truly West Coast meets East Coast as the predominately Southern California sport invaded the Concrete Jungle for the third consecutive year. Board shorts, bikinis, sunscreen and sandals were in full force.
Ryan Doherty grew up in Toms River, N.J., less than two hours from NYC. When he was younger his family would come into the city for shows and other events. While he isn’t much of a city person, considering himself an introvert, Doherty, who finished tied for seventh with partner John Hyden, is still impressed with the atmosphere the Big Apple exudes.
“It’s great for us to mix into the hectic scrum of a city like New York City, soaking in the energy and vibrancy that comes out of a place like this,” Doherty said. “It’s always awe-inspiring being around the city, just the sheer monument of it all is pretty incredible.”
In typical New York City fashion, the fans remained loud and engaged throughout the weekend, whether it was singing along to songs from DJ Roueche, doing the wave during, dancing along with the “Monster Block” after an impressive block, or even heckling the athletes.
“First of all, New York City, thank you so much,” said three-time Olympian Jake Gibb after winning the men’s title with Trevor Crabb, before jokingly adding, “The heckling is good but at some point, it’s got to stop.”
New York City isn’t the only non-beach city on the 2017 AVP tour. The tour also visited Austin (May 18-21) and will head to Seattle (June 22-25) and San Francisco (July 6-9) before concluding in Chicago (Aug. 31-Sept. 3).
“In terms of of American events, the NYC Open is one of the top-3 we’re going to have this year,” Doherty said. “It’s a Gold Series event on the AVP for a reason.”