Beach volleyball and tennis merge at Miami Open

There was a long line at the Itau Experience to get an autograph from Andy Murray.
There was a long line at the Itau Experience to get an autograph from Andy Murray. Getty Images

The Miami Open brought the sand to tennis fans Thursday, as pro beach volleyball joined pro tennis on Key Biscayne on the west side of the stadium at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.

There were even waves – but not from the ocean. Several baby-blue-garbed ball kids not working matches sat on white Adirondack chairs doing the wave while two coed teams representing the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour played an exhibition match.

“It’s awesome,” said AVP Tour player Casey Patterson, 34, of Huntington Beach, Calif. “We play all summer long in places like this. It’s exactly in our wheelhouse and we love it. Music, fans, entertainment, a lot of action going on while we entertain the crowd.

“The main goal: get people fired up about volleyball.”

John King, head referee for the AVP Tour, said that through Saturday, exhibitions will be played beginning at 11 a.m.

“This is the first time I’ve played for fun in I can’t remember how long,” said 2008 Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser. “It’s loose and we’re talking a little trash here and there. Great time.”


Over at the food court, it was still barely past 1 p.m. and tables were filling up fast at the Moet Chandon tent, where tournament-goers opted for champagne over tennis.

Some skipped the champagne to have their pictures taken in an adjoining tent with Moet bottles affixed to the wall and #MOET MOMENT above two tennis rackets.

Erica Zohar came from Los Angeles with her 15-year-old son Elan and husband Lior, had her photo taken and then “S-Beamed” from a worker’s Samsung Galaxy Phone to hers. Zohar, a 1989 graduate of Palmetto High and 1992 graduate of University of Miami, said she was thrilled to return to South Florida.

“We like coming here because it gives him something fun to do,” said Erica, who grew up in Coral Gables and said they’re always struggling for something Elan will enjoy.

“He’s too old for the Seaquarium and too young for Ultra,” Lior said, noting how there’s something for everyone at the tournament. “It’s almost like a Miami party with Miami flair.”


World No. 4 Andy Murray, who will play against ninth-ranked Tomas Berdych in a Friday semifinal, created quite a stir – and a line that snaked deep into the premises – by signing autographs at the Itau Experience.

The tournament provided free online photos of everyone who got an autograph.

“I’ve waited only half an hour,” said John North, 52, of Knoxville, Tennessee, who took a selfie on Wednesday with former Miami Open women’s champion Martina Navratilova. “Andy Murray is actually a really nice guy.”


Through the end of the tournament, the Taste of the Open will present small portions of some of the favorite dishes of four well-known chefs: Tom Colicchio, Scott Conant, Josh Capon and Michelle Bernstein.

“Everybody is talking about this burger,” said Suzany Di Grassi, a Brazilian who lives in Sunny Isles and is working in the Taste of the Open area on the west side of the stadium. “It was the best seller here [Wednesday].”

Di Grassi spoke of the Josh Capon’s “Bash Burger,” which won the top prize at last year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash.

Cost at the Miami Open: $10.

What is the Bash Burger?

“Eighty percent chuck, 20 percent brisket short-rib, seared with Dijon mustard and American cheese on top, served with bacon jam, and the special sauce, which is… Oh, I can’t tell you,” said Jase Grimm, with Great Performances Catering Company. “And pickles.”

Meet the four chefs from 3-5 p.m. Friday.

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