For Sarah Stratton and Emily Julian the New Zealand Provincial Beach Volleyball Champ is a way to come up against close competition.
The pair is one of 64 teams competing in the New Zealand Provincial Beach Volleyball Champs at Mount Maunganui's Main Beach, a two-day competition bringing teams from the Tasman, Otago, Canterbury and throughout the North Island.
As the top seeds in their Under 19 division pool, played four games on day one yesterday, with finals due today. While they won all of their matches, they said there were times they made it hard for themselves.
Competing on the New Zealand Beach Tour in the open women's division, Stratton and Julian face tough competition the whole way through. They say they're enjoying this week's tournament, able to play against athletes their own age, giving them closer competition.
"This is our pinnacle for our age group," Julian says.
This year was their last competing in this tournament as they were both heading to university in 2020 - Julian to Massey University in Auckland and Stratton to Daytona State University in Florida, receiving a scholarship to play indoor volleyball.
Otumoetai College students Rose Akkerman, 17, and Larissa Meads, 17, are the second seeds in the same division as Stratton and Julian, also part of the New Zealand six-person team aiming to make the four-person New Zealand Asian Championships Under 19 team.
The pair say they love being able to get to play at home because they're so familiar with it, training on site up to three times a week.
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"The Mount's the best beach to play on," Akkerman says.
Like Stratton and Julian, Akkerman and Meads compete in the open women's division on the New Zealand Beach Tour, which means they are faced with tough competition.
Next up for the pair, who will be in Year 13 this year, will be the New Zealand Secondary Schools Beach Volleyball Champs at Mount Maunganui on February 1 and 2.
Coinciding with the provincial tournament was yesterday's inaugural one day New Zealand Tertiary Beach Volleyball Champs with six university teams competing.
Volleyball New Zealand beach volleyball manager Tim Cleaver says the decision to run a tertiary competition came about because of the opportunity to send athletes to the World University Beach Volleyball Championships.
He says they'll continue running the university-level tournament for at least the next couple of years and see if it grows in popularity.