Chicago is the home of Spikeball Inc., so it is fitting that the SRA Tour Series will conclude there this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, teams from all over the nation will head to Montrose Beach to compete in the fifth annual Chicago Grand Slam. As this is the last SRA event before Regionals and Nationals, all divisions are expected to feature strong competition.
In the four years since the Chicago Grand Slam’s inception, only two teams have taken home first place. For the first time at a Chicago Grand Slam, both of these teams will be competing. The most recent winner was current #1 team and 2017 National Champions Cisek/Showalter (Tyler Cisek and Peter Jon Showalter), who have yet to lose a tournament this season. Last weekend in Boston, the pair lost their first series of the year to #9 Anchored LI. Last season, after losing the Boston Grand Slam, Cisek/Showalter put on a dominant performance in Chicago.
The winner of the three other Chicago Grand Slams is none other than two-time National Champions Chico Spikes (Shaun Boyer and Skyler Boles). Besides their three Chicago Grand Slam wins, Chico Spikes took home countless tournament wins during their roundnet reign from 2013-2016. The pair only accumulated five losses in their years of competing, and one of these was to Cisek/Showalter back in 2015. This is the first tournament since 2016 Nationals for Chico Spikes and eyes will be on them to see how they compete with the top teams of 2018.
There are plenty of teams to compete with, as ten Power Ranked teams will be playing in the Chicago Premier Division, including six top ten teams. #5 Origin Vengeance (Dylan Fogarty and Chris Hornacek), a Chicago-based team, went win-less against Chico Spikes back in 2016 and should be excited for a chance to score their first victory against the pair.
A second top ranked Chicago-based team is #6 Origin Worldwide (Patrick Drucker and Chris Wilkins) who has found great success in their two tournaments this season (2nd in Columbus and 4th in Nashville). As these are there only two results, this Grand Slam will show if the team has the consistency to score a top spot once again.
Skyler Boles and Shaun Boyer of Chico Spikes scramble for a ball at the Santa Monica Grand Slam in 2016.
Two other top ten teams coming are #7 The (717) (Caleb Heck and Joel Graham) and #8 Schweppes (Micah Zimmerman and Jesse Showalter), who both have wins on Origin Vengeance this season. The (717) has landed on multiple podiums while Schweppes has narrowly missed out one one themselves. Either of these two could compete with the top seeds.
Rounding out the top ten is #10 Tetelestai (Logan Cornelius and Jesse Throw), who has come extremely close to some big wins this year. In Nashville, Tetelestai forced #2 Wabi Sabi into a game three situation and did the same with Origin Vengeance in Dallas. Like The (717) and Schweppes, a good day could land these two on the podium.
Logan Cornelius of Tetelestai dives over the net for a hit at the 2017 Chicago Grand Slam.
Not far behind are #12 SubPar (Josh Fragiacomo and Jacob Martinez) and #13 Joey and Joey (Joey Pierron and Joey Hafertepe) who have shown this year that they can compete with these top ten teams. Closing out the Power Ranked teams are Spikers Anonymous (Taylor Church and Spencer Schmidt), who is recently ranked and looking for a big win, and Cho’s Bros (Micah Corbett and Caleb Royse), who on a good day can hang with the best.
This will also be the first Premier Tournament for Fredric Hinkle (of Chunky), Grand Rapids Elite (Kevin Bailey and Robin Wolschendorf), and Daniel Dantowitz (of Butts! Butts? Butts).
Tomorrow in Chicago there is a stacked 50-team Advanced Division in which the top 2 teams will earn Premier qualifications. This is the last chance to earn a Premier qualification for those looking to compete in the Regionals Premier Divisions. There are many solid teams featuring out of town players, like Tilted Tweeners (Zac Vance and David Gonzales) and Origin L.E.D. (Nick Rankin and Harding Brumby), as well as some strong local pairs like Origin Insanity (Wyatt Semke and David Ashenbrenner) and Origin Moist Towelette (Jack Matthews and Kurt Dolson).
The Chicago Women’s Division is slated to be one of the most competitive of the year. Six of the top 10 Power Ranked women's teams are attending. The #1 ranked women’s teams Ogres Heroes (Becca Graham and Alli Kauffman) will be looking for their second Chicago Grand Slam win in a row. #3 Cougs (Michalea Hershberger and Ashley Gingerich) and #5 MOXIE (Julie Haselton and Jenna Coleman) went 1-1 in series in Nashville so a rematch this weekend could go any which way.
Jenna Coleman MOXIE hits a tweener at the 2017 Santa Monica Grand Slam.
#6 Doctor’s Orders (Jackie Yoo and Tory White), #7 Wingin’ It (Krista Shrock and Annelise Rohrer), and #8 Diamante (Kayla Swayze and Alex Perry) will all be competing. Diamante took second place in Boston last weekend, but fell to Doctor’s Orders in Seattle earlier this year. The formerly ranked Twinz (Olivia and Ali Jenkins) is joining the action as well. With many potential match-ups between top teams, this is a women’s tournament to watch.
Thirty-three teams will return to Montrose Beach on Sunday for the last Coed Division until Coed Nationals in November. Dilly Dalli (Dylan Fogarty and Alli Kauffman) has taken first at all Coed events they have played in this year and are for the Grand Slam sweep this Sunday. Both Riff Raff (Joel Graham and Becca Graham) and Team Kiwi (Peter Jon Showalter and Ashley Gingerich) have placed second to Dilly Dalli this year and should be their strongest competitors on the day.
A few other teams that could challenge Dilly Dalli or land on the podium are heck yeah (Olivia Jenkins and Caleb Heck), Fennís Treasure (Tyler Cisek and Annelise Rohrer) and Beaut (Shaun Boyer and Julie Haselton).
The Director of the SRA himself, Jack Scotti, will also be competing on Sunday with Mellissa Scotti as Scotti 2 Hotties, and you don’t want to miss that.
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