San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Summertime arrives in Costa Rica with beach volleyball tourney

The next games of the 21st annual National Beach Volleyball tournament take place this weekend at Playa Bonita on the Caribbean coast, following the first rounds last weekend at San José´s La Sabana Park, which took spectators by surprise with some unexpected upsets.

On the women´s side, the Cristal team of Ivette Alas and Marianela Alfaro, who have won the tournament for the past four years, are ranked second to the Ferretería Brenes-Lanco team, Ingrid Morales and Nathalia Alfaro, after a crushing loss last weekend.

The men´s favorite was the Cristal team, Marcelo Araya and Zlatko Piskilich, who managed to maintain their top spot in a roundabout way. During the preliminaries, they lost to Festina 2011 and had to play and win two more games to make it back to the final round, where Festina 2011 succumbed to their powerful play.

The games kick off at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and will continue late into the evening. Sunday morning games start at 8 a.m. and finish around 1 p.m.

The competition takes place over the course of four weekends.

Though beach volleyball is certainly not as popular as soccer here, Costa Rican beach volleyball teams are rallying for wider recognition within their own country and beyond. Last year, the men and women´s champion teams competed in the Central American Games in Guatemala, and this year´s champions will do the same.

“Before this past weekend, it was pretty obvious who the favorites were,” said Esteban Jiménez, vice president of the Beach Volleyball Association. “But after the games, I think the old favorites are not the only favorites anymore.”

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