For basketball, New York City is unquestioned as the mecca of the game.
For beach volleyball? It's Manhattan Beach.
The 58th annual Manhattan Beach Open, the longest continually running tournament in beach volleyball, begins Thursday, bringing 64 of the most talented teams in the sport to the local sand for what is known as the "Granddaddy" of the sport.
Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, who lead the AVP standings and won last month's Hermosa Beach Open, will be among the competitors on the men's side, along with three-time AVP MVP Phil Dalhausser and partner Nick Lucena, and fellow Americans Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner.
The women's competition will feature two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and her partner, Lauren Fendrick, and former USC national champions Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. Kerri Walsh-Jennings left the AVP tour in May following a contract dispute and will not compete.
The AVP Tour has been in flux in recent years and struggled to capture interest during non-Olympic years. The Manhattan Beach Open is part of the inaugural AVP Gold Series, a collection of three higher-stakes events.
The Gold Series, which began with the season opener in New York City and will end with the AVP Championships in Chicago, are worth both more AVP points and have significantly larger purses — $225,000 instead of $150,000 — than other tournaments on the circuit.
Qualifying rounds will be played Thursday, and the main draw begins Friday, continuing through Saturday. The finals are scheduled for Sunday and will be broadcast live on NBC at 11:30 a.m.