For 37 years the Sunshine State Games has offered Floridians the opportunity to compete in a variety of sports in the state’s finest athletic facilities.
In an effort to showcase Florida’s top natural resource, the 2016 SSG International Beach Games offers three sports this weekend on Clearwater Beach at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. Athletes from around the state, nation and world will compete with the Gulf of Mexico serving as a backdrop in Beach Handball, Tennis and Ultimate and the USA Track and Field-Florida Super Weight Throw.
The action begins Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. with Beach Tennis-Men’s and Women’s Open Singles competition. The Men’s and Women’s 40+ Doubles play begins at 2:00 p.m.
All three sports will be played on Saturday as Beach Tennis begins again at 9:30 a.m. with Men’s and Women’s Open Doubles. Beach Ultimate begins at 9:00 a.m. and to showcase the type of competition to be seen in the USATF Super Weight Throw Championships, a Highland Games Throwing Demonstration will be presented. The Super Weight Throw event begins at 12 Noon.
All events will be contested in the vast beach area behind the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, located at 1160 Gulf Boulevard in Clearwater Beach. Once the competition has completed for the day, all athletes are invited to participate in a buffet dinner hosted by the Sheraton Sand Key Resort.
Beach Tennis and Ultimate conclude on Sunday. The Super Weight Throw Competition will only be held on Saturday.
What to Expect when Attending the SSG International Beach Games
Beach Tennis is played on a sand court similar in size to a beach volleyball court, 16 meters long and 8 meters wide. The net is 1.7 meters in height and players use paddle bats with no strings and low compression orange ball. Scoring is the same as regular tennis with the permanent use of no-advantage, after deuce. There is no second service or service let. A point is scored if the ball hits the ground in the opposing court or if the opponent(s) hit (or serve) the ball out or into the net. Three of the top four players in the International Federation Beach Tennis Women’s Doubles rankings will be competing this weekend at Clearwater Beach.
Beach Tennis Athletes to Watch
Barbora Jilkova, Delray Beach – The native of the Czech Republic is the top-ranked women’s doubles player by the International Federation Beach Tennis (IFBT) and is ranked second among mixed doubles players. She and her women’s doubles partner, fourth-ranked Marie Pierre Huett, of Canada, won the silver medal at the 2015 Games, losing out to second-ranked Roos de Hart and partner Laryssa Ferreira Booth. De Hart returns for the 2016 partner but not Booth.
Marie Pierre Huett, Canada – Is ranked among the top three in women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles by the IFBT and is the top-ranked women’s singles player. She recently competed in the IFBT World Championships in Barcelona in July. Huett played collegiate tennis at the University of Oklahoma.
Beach Ultimate is the same game played that has been played in the Sunshine State Games since 2006 with the exception of the court which is sand and not grass. The rectangular playing field is 70 yards by 40 yards with end zones 25 yards deep with seven players on each team. A team scores a point by advancing down the field and completing a pass in the defense’s end zone. As in the Sunshine State Games and all Ultimate competitions, players shall adhere to the Spirit of the Game, where sportsmanship and fair play is stressed. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules and the basic joy of play.
Eight Coed teams and four Open teams will be playing on five sand fields beginning at 10:15 a.m. with the final game of the day beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Open Division will be completed on Saturday and the Coed Division will continue on Sunday with action taking place between 9:30 a.m. and 12 Noon.
In the Open Division, the gold-medal winning team from the 2015 Beach Ultimate competition returns, with Mark Mendelevitz, of Orlando, leading the Full Mast team onto the sands of Clearwater Beach.
The Super Weight Throw Event will consist of athletes making throws of two weights, ranging between 12 and 56 pounds, with the weight being defined by the age of the competitor. Athletes will throw the weight from a temporary platform into the sand.
Super Weight Throw Athletes to Watch
Bob Gourlay, Ocala – Will be part of the Highland Games Demonstration Team making a presentation at 9:30 a.m. Gourlay, who organizes Highland Games competitions statewide, will then compete in the Super Weight Throw for the first time. He will be swapping places with the Super Weight Throw Event Director, Jim Griffin, who will participate in the Highland Games Demonstration with Gourlay.
Gary Dixon, Sarasota – Most recently earned a Gold Medal at the USATF Masters National Throws Championships in August in Lisle, Illinois in the 55-59 age group of the Super Weight Throw and a bronze medal in the Throws Pentathlon event. Dixon has also competed in the Florida Senior Games in shot put competition.
Madison Malone, Fort Lauderdale – A senior at Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, Malone had six shot put and discus first place finishes last spring as a junior. She finished third in the Class 2A State High School Championships in the discus and fifth in the shot put. At the SSG International Beach Games, she is hoping to impress coaches with her performance to earn a paid recruiting visit to Notre Dame.
Friday, September 23
9:30 a.m. – Beach Tennis – Men’s and Women’s Open Singles competition
2:00 p.m. – Beach Tennis – Men’s and Women’s 40+ Doubles competition
Saturday, September 24
9:30 a.m. – Highland Games Throwing Demonstration
9:30 a.m. – Beach Tennis – Men’s and Women’s Open Doubles competition
10:15 a.m. – Beach Ultimate competition begins
12 Noon – Super Weight Throw competition begins
2:30 p.m. – Beach Tennis – Men’s and Women’s Open & Advanced Doubles competition
6:00 p.m. – Athlete party and dinner buffet
Sunday, September 25
9:30 a.m. – Beach Ultimate competition begins
9:30 a.m. – Beach Tennis – Open Mixed Doubles competition
2:30 p.m. – Beach Tennis – Open and Advanced Mixed Doubles competition