Top talent at Laguna Open

The field is set for Saturday's Men's Laguna Open beach volleyball tournament.

The 58th annual event, billed as the second-oldest tournament in the U.S., features 24 two-man teams that will contend for $2,000 in cash and prizes including the tournament title. Match action begins at 9 a.m. at Main Beach and runs throughout the day.

"The field is very strong this year," said Kirk Morgan who is the tournament director for California Beach Volleyball Assn. for the city of Laguna Beach.

Morgan runs city classes and tournaments in Laguna Beach.

"We have nine of the top 20 AAA-rated players in California, and 24 of the top 100," he said of this year's tournament field.

The AAA rating is the highest amateur rating. Included in this year's field of competitors are some of the top the state's top-rated beach players: No. 2 Will Montgomery, No. 4 Adam Cabbage, No. 6 Travis Schoonover, and No. 11 Marcin Jagoda. Past champion Ken Lentin of San Diego also will vie for the title.

Morgan said that the top-rated Laguna Beach team in the tournament, seeded No. 11, is the team of Bobby Jacobs and Jon Larson, both AAA-rated players.

Starting in 1955, the Men's Laguna Open championship for the first seven years was won by Gene Selznick who teamed with different partners to win the tournament. The title later went from Selznick, who died last June, to his son, Dane Selznick, who twice won the tournament and at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, helped Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh win the gold medal in women's beach volleyball.

Laguna Beach athletes have done well in the tournament. Dain Blanton, who also won Olympic gold in men's outdoor volleyball in Sydney, Australia in 2000, won the open in 1993. Dusty Dvorak and Scott Fortune, two more Olympic gold athletes (indoor volleyball) also competed in but didn't win the tournament. Local residents Mike Garcia and Brian Wisely won the title in 1996, Ty Loomis won it in 2005, and Casey Patterson and Ryan Doherty outlasted Matt Prosser and Matt Olson in last year's final.

Tournament action is open to the viewing public and free of admission. Morgan said local radio station FM 93.5 will broadcast from the tournament late-Saturday afternoon.

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