Challenge - Edmonton, CAN - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News

Vernon-Evans CEV

Vernon-Evans played his first tournament on the sand last week in Lille (Photo: CEV)

A Tokyo 2020 volleyball Olympian with Canada, Sharone Vernon-Evans is excited to continue to represent his country internationally around the world, but since the start of the month, the 24-year-old player has been doing it on a different surface.

A 2017 FIVB World League bronze medallist, the opposite has recently made a switch to the sand and is currently in the early stages of the process to achieve his goal of getting to compete on a very high level on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour.

Vernon-Evans and partner Steven Marshall, a Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 volleyball Olympian, started practicing on the sand at the beginning of June, finally putting in motion a plan they had talked about for years.

After concluding their trajectories with the Canadian national team at the Tokyo Games, in 2021, they took the 2022 international season off to rest and reset and are now ready to embrace their new challenge.

“I always wanted to play beach volleyball after the Tokyo Olympics and am very happy about my decision,” Vernon-Evans told Volleyball World. “Steve and I talked about it frequently while we were on the national team and we knew we would be playing together when that happened. I love having him as my partner, it’s been amazing that we’re getting to do it now.”

This, however, won’t be the first experience on the sand for either Vernon-Evans or the 33-year-old Marshall. While the opposite represented Canada at the 2014 FIVB U17 Beach Volleyball World Championship and the 2016 FIVB U19 Beach Volleyball World Championship, Marshall has appeared in Age-Group World Championships in 2007 and 2009 and also competed in FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events in 2010 and 2011, having Olympians Ben Saxton, Sam Schachter and Chaim Schalk as partners.

The move is not full-time - at least not yet. Both Vernon-Evans and Marshall will continue their volleyball club careers, with the opposite set to play for the third-straight season for the Sakai Blazers in the Japanese V-League.

Juggling the demands of volleyball and beach volleyball simultaneously is a massive challenge and not many players have had success in it. Vernon-Evans, however, has a close positive example in fellow Canadian Sarah Pavan, who conciliated careers in both sports between 2013 and 2018, winning 11 international medals in the period and qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“Sarah laid out a blueprint that has proven to be very successful, so I would love to follow it and hope to one day have the same success she’s had,” Vernon-Evans added. “My goal is similar to everything I do, which is to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. I will work as hard as I possibly can to put myself in the best position to constantly improve and learn.”

Vernon-Evans CEV (2)

Vernon-Evans and Marshall in action at the Lille Futures (Photo: CEV)

Vernon-Evans and Marshall officially started their ‘beach careers’ last week, just a few days after they began training, at the Beach Pro Tour Futures event held in Lille, France. A two-set defeat in the first round of the qualifier may have not brought the result the Canadians expected, but it certainly broke the ice and gave them some food for thought going forward.

“It was nice to finally play a match and see where we are at and where we need to improve,” the Canadian reflected. “I think we need to continue to work on our cardio and get our beach legs to where they need to be to sustain our level throughout a tournament. I feel like I have many things to improve on, I’m not quite where I would like to be yet performance-wise.”

The first step of the Canadians’ beach project will go on until mid-August, when they will return to their volleyball clubs to prepare for the upcoming 2023-2024 season.

Fino ad allora, Vernon-Evans e Marshall giocheranno in alcuni eventi nazionali in Canada e sono anche iscritti al Beach Pro Tour Edmonton Challenge e al Montréal Elite16, che si svolgeranno nel loro paese nella seconda metà di luglio.

A causa dei punti di accesso limitati, i due devono aspettare che le liste di iscrizione siano finalizzate per scoprire se saranno in grado di giocare in questi eventi, ma la possibilità di affrontare alcune delle migliori squadre del mondo nella sabbia di casa così presto nel loro viaggio li eccita già.

"Sicuramente parteciperemo ad alcuni eventi in Canada per migliorare il nostro condizionamento, le nostre capacità generali e la connessione tra di noi", ha spiegato Vernon-Evans. "Se partecipiamo a questi tornei del Beach Pro Tour, vogliamo competere il più possibile e vedere se siamo all'altezza dei migliori. Useremo questi eventi per imparare e capire cosa dobbiamo fare per migliorare e arrivare al livello dei migliori al mondo".

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