After seven straight weekends of tournaments, the Spikeball Roundnet Association (SRA) Tour was inactive for the first two weekends of August. However, the next two weekends will feature two of the biggest and most competitive tournaments of the year: The Boston and Chicago Grand Slams. We’re starting in Boston, which became the Grand Slam location in 2016 and has not dropped below 100 teams in attendance since, with 108 teams coming out to Pope John Paul Park tomorrow (and an additional 16 on Sunday for Coed play).
The 2018 Boston Grand Slam will feature the second largest Premier Division of the year with 21-teams (only bested by 28 teams at SummerSpike). There is also a hefty 48-team Advanced Division and a 37-team Intermediate Division.
Looking back to last year, the 2017 Boston Grand Slam was one of the most exciting roundnet tournaments of the year. Anchored LI (Anthony Alvino and Ryan Fitzgerald) shocked the world by defeating previously undefeated on the year Cisek/Showalter (Tyler Cisek and Peter Jon Showalter) in the semifinals. Anchored LI then went onto upset Origin Impact in the finals to win the tournament. At that point last year, a Boston Grand Slam win would be a East Tour sweep for Cisek Showalter. This year, #1 Cisek/Showalter is once again going for the East Tour Sweep (No team has ever swept a regional tour) and many teams would like to stop them.
The current #2 team, Wabi Sabi (Preston Bies and Jarratt Rouse), will be making the trip from California to Boston. Cisek/Showalter and Wabi Sabi have only matched up once this year, back in the Lancaster Finals which Cisek/Showalter won in two games. A few weeks ago Wabi Sabi battled well with Showalter and Dylan Fogarty of Origin Vengeance in the Nashville Winner’s and Grand Finals.
Hornacek and Fogarty of Origin Vengeance play defense at SummerSpike 2018.
#5 Origin Vengeance (Dylan Fogarty and Chris Hornacek) took first place back at the 2016 Boston Grand Slam. This season Vengeance has fallen to Cisek/Showalter in multiple tournaments but has only faced Wabi Sabi once. In the Lancaster semifinals Wabi Sabi eliminated Origin Vengeance in three close games. Hornacek and Fogarty are looking for revenge tomorrow and Fogarty should have more confidence after defeating the pair twice in Nashville.
The #7 ranked The (717) (Caleb Heck and Joel Graham) have had good results in the 2018 East Tour, including a fourth place finish in Lancaster and recent second place finish at the Jersey Shore. They’ve also found two wins over the 2017 Boston Champs and currently ranked #9 Anchored LI. This will be only the third tournament of the season for Anchored LI and with less than stellar finishes at their first two, we can expect big focus heading into Boston.
Three other Power Ranked teams are headed out to Boston. One is #12 SubPar Team (Josh Fragiacomo and Jacob Martinez) who scored a huge second place finish at the Santa Monica Grand Slam in June. Since then the pair landed at T-9th and T-7th at SummerSpike and Nashville, respectively. The newly Power Ranked #22 Spiker’s Anonymous (Taylor Church and Spencer Schmidt) is coming from Utah and #24 Cho’s Bros (Caleb Royse and Micah Corbett) is joining from Georgia.
Caleb Royse of Cho's Bros follows through on a hit at SummerSpike 2018.
The other 13 teams in this stacked Premier Division are a healthy mix of mash-ups and nearly Power Ranked teams, all looking for a stand out day. RizSpect (George Rizk and Brandon Spector) is competing for the second time this East Tour. In their last performance, at SummerSike 2018, the pair forced Cisek/Showalter to three-games in their round of 16 match. Two strong East players, Dan McPartland and Ezra Dantowitz, are joining forces tomorrow as Spicy Tuna Roll. Eyes will be on McPartland as he has not competed since College Nationals in late April.
Ubiquitous (Chris Bradley and Austin Rawlings) and Kardia (Mitch Wirth and Brendan Warren) are close to the Power Rankings and looking for a big win. This is also the first Premier Tournament of 2018 for Tripp Pierson of ‘Merica Men and Sam Buckman of The Element of Surprise who both earned Premier at their region’s Grand Slams.
In addition to the strong Premier Division, many top players are coming out to compete in the 48-team Advanced Division. As this is the last chance to qualify for Premier in the East before regionals next month, many will be aiming for a top 2 finish.
The top women’s team Ogres Heroes will be splitting in the Advanced Division and both competing with strong partners as Old Heroes (Becca Graham and Mark Borunda) and breakfast (Alli Kauffman and Kale Weaver).
A few other teams featuring one Premier player that could make a run are Thursday Night Lights (Gray Johnson and Jack Kolis), Everybody Hates Chris (Christopher Rampino and Ryan Baillargeon), and Shmapoopments (Nick Abramson and Matt Olah). Dandy-Lions (Andrew Hess and Darren Martin) finished third in Columbus, just missing out on Premier, but are a strong contender in Boston. Skadoosh and return to sender could also factor into the podium.
With the increased interest in Coed roundnet, all 2018 Grand Slams have or will feature Coed Division on Sunday. This weekend 16-teams will be returning Sunday.
Dilly Dalli (Dylan Fogarty and Alli Kauffman) have won both the Santa Monica and Nashville Grand Slams and are favored to win in Boston as well. Their top competitors include Riff Raff (Joel Graham and Becca Graham) and TKO (Tyler Cisek and Kayla Swayze).
Other teams with strong podium potential Fraggy (Josh Fragiacomo and Alex Perry), Fluffernutter (Leah White and Ezra Dantowitz), and Merica (Tripp Pierson and Katie Pierson).
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