MANHATTAN BEACH, California (July 18, 2019) – Under mostly blue skies and in warm temperatures, the first session of the 2019 National Beach Tour Junior Championships (NBTJCs) began Thursday with quintessential beach volleyball weather.
Two age divisions – 12U and 16U – took the courts on day one and battled through one round of pool play. Of the 377 teams to compete, 43 remain undefeated. Below is a look at two of those teams.
Boys 16U – National Open Division
Tennessee and Alabama are not your traditional beach volleyball hotspots, but don’t tell that to Gavin Blanchette (Brentwood, Tennessee) and Tate Colebaugh (Owens Cross Roads, Alabama). The pair went undefeated on day one of the NBTJCs, claiming 84 points in three wins over the rest of their pool.
“We got to play some good competition and played well with each other, kept our heads together, and pulled out a few wins,” said Blanchette.
Colebaugh agreed. “We made sure we played our game at all times and kept our shots clean and crisp.”
Despite being separated by a two-hour drive, the pair have played together for four years and manage three practices in sand a week. During that time as partners, they have competed together all across the country to “Find the best players and conditions we can play in,” according to Blanchette. They also face quite a step up in skill level and pit themselves against adult players in the area to sharpen their skills.
“Playing with adults is always great competition. It makes you work a lot harder,” said Colebaugh.
With their perfect record on day one, the duo will be the top seeded team in their pool during the second round. That’s not enough for them, though, as they’ll look to improve during the middle day of competition.
“We need more communication,” Colebaugh said. “Tougher serves, too. We’re all still trying to get used to the wind, but tomorrow for sure there’ll be top spins out here.”
Girls 12U – National Open Division
Rather than play together for a few years, NBTJCs are Mia Komsky (Sherman Oaks, California) and Taylor Deckert’s (Manhattan Beach) fourth tournament as partners. That didn’t seem to matter much, however, as the two stormed through their pool, going 4-0 with 84 points scored while allowing just 27.
Overall, there were a lot of good takeaways for Komsky. “We played really well together. We communicated a lot, and that was really helpful. Hustling for everything, not letting it touch the ground, that stuff. Just having fun, playing loose.”
The pair have shown an ability to consistently do all those in every tournament they enter. Despite being a new pairing, they’re still undefeated during competitive matches.
“We work really well together,” said Deckert. “We both have a lot of energy, I think for the most part we’re pretty similar.”
There is one difference though: “I talk a lot,” laughed Deckert.
Komsky agreed. “I don’t talk a lot, and she is the more talkative person. Also, she hits more, and I do more shots.”
Living so close to each other does allow the duo to practice together a bit, but so far their activities have been limited to the volleyball court.
“We had dinner one time,” suggested Komsky. “But other than that, nothing.
One dinner, four tournaments, and still undefeated. What will happen when these two share lunch?
The 2019 National Beach Tour Junior Championships resume Friday, July 19, with the second day of pool play for both age groups. The 12U divisions will begin at 8 a.m., while the 16U divisions start at 1 p.m., again on Manhattan Beach.