Major Volleyball Tournament Comes to Fort Lauderdale

April Ross, an American player, will be competing in the tournament as a wild card. She was one of 42 athletes who signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court showing their support for gay marriage. (Swatch Majors)

April Ross, an American player, will be competing in the tournament as a wild card. She was one of 42 athletes who signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court showing their support for gay marriage. (Swatch Majors)

Volleyball players from around the world are going to be hitting the sand for the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.

The tournament will have 16 two-person men and women’s teams, as well as four wild card teams, with the winning duo raking in $100,000.

“It’s a great place for beach volleyball — the audience is knowledgeable and they’ll cheer loud,” said April Ross, a wild card player for the U.S. team. “They’re going to get a great show.”

The teams hail from the U.S., Brazil, the Netherlands, Austria, Canada, and more. With such a large Brazilian fan base in South Florida, those games are expected to be heavily attended.

According to a press release from the tournament staff, about 30,000 spectators are expected to show up for the games. The final men’s and women’s matches will be broadcasted live on Oct. 4 on NBC.

“South Florida is known all over the world,” Hannes Jagerhofer, Beach Majors CEO, said for why Fort Lauderdale was chosen to host the finals. “Everything is a perfect fit.”

Out Player Profile: Larissa França Maestrini

(Swatch Major Series)

(Swatch Major Series)

Hailing from Fortaleza, Brazil, the 33-year-old volleyball player hit the professional beach volleyball scene in 2001 after playing indoor volleyball for a number of years. She won a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in 2003 and also won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2012 with her partner. In 2005, she and her then-volleyball partner, Juliana Felisberta Silva, set a record for the highest single season earnings when they won $409,750 in winnings.

An openly out player, Franca Mestrini married her partner, Liliane Maestrini, also a beach volleyball player, in 2013. The two had come out as a couple — and lesbian — just a month prior. In Brazil, gay marriage has been legal since 2004.

“It is important to fight for what do you want,” she told SFGN. “Being a winner at the beach volleyball is not as easy as being one in life. But if you do just things that you like, it can be a little easier.”


IF YOU GO

What: Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals

Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale

When: Sept. 29 to Oct. 4

More Information: us.SwatchMajorSeries.com.

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