THE equal biggest number of teams in 29 years has forced organisers to expand Warrnambool Volleyball Associat-ion’s Annual Seaside Tournament.
Association president Anthony Smith said a capacity 74 teams from Victoria and South Australia would converge on Warrnambool for the three-day event, which starts on Saturday.
The association had to source a 10th court, hiring St John’s Primary School gym at Dennington.
Smith said the number of teams across nine grades meant they had outgrown the usual seven courts at three venues.
Smith said the tournament had attracted 65 teams last year but 74 equalled the biggest under the current format since 2006. The 74 in 2006 was the largest since 1985, when organisers made a decision to cap entries in order to preserve the tournament’s renowned “experience”.
“It’s an amazing number,” Smith said.
“Considering it’s hard to get accommodation with the tennis, (Port Fairy) folk festival and state surf lifesaving championships on.”
Smith said Seaside, one of the country’s premier events, had attracted strong interest from elite players.
Teams will use the event as a warm-up for the Victorian state league season.
Warrnambool will field five representative sides: two men’s and three women’s, with a sixth side made up of local recreational players.
The men’s top grade has nine sides, including defending titleholder Yarra Ranges, which will kick-start its quest for consecutive State League titles.
The women’s honours division is headed by powerhouse Heidelberg, which claimed an unprecedented three Seaside titles in consecutive years in 2013.