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T&T pairs 7th and 8th in NORCECA finale

Trinidad Express / TRINIDAD and Tobago’s pairs finished seventh and eighth in the 11th and final leg of the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) Beach Volleyball Tour Sunday at Turtle Beach, Tobago. After losing in the quarterfinals the night before, this country’s only female pair in the three-day tournament, Malika Davidson and La Teisha Joseph, lost both matches in the playoff for fifth place to end up eight. The first-time partners were beaten 21-11, 21-14 by Costa Ricans Marcela Araya and Eugenia Ramirez in the seventh-place playoff after being brushed aside 21-9, 21-11 by Canadians Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson earlier in the day. Joseph and Davidson had lost two of their three matches in the round-robin stage, but managed to reach the quarterfinals as one of the two best third-place teams, thanks to an emphatic straight-set triumph over the Antiguan pair. Like their compatriots, Daneil Williams and Marlon Phillip were beaten in their opening match,—21-15, 21-10 by No. 2 seeds Michael Plantinga and Grant O’Gorman of Canada—but they bounced to edge Cubans Karel Pena and Daisel Quesada 22-20, 21-18 for seventh place. The T&T duo had finished in the exact position when they competed together for the first time in the previous leg in Antigua in the middle of last month. Williams and Fabien Whitfield contested the first six tournaments in this year’s circuit, reaching at least the quarters on five occasions and claiming a silver medal in the fourth stage in Costa Rica in mid-April. However, Whitfield tested positive for a banned substance following the sixth leg in Dominican Republic two weeks later and has not competed since. After sitting out the seventh and eighth stages, Williams returned in the eighth in Puerto Rico in early August and reached the quarters with top indoor player Simon Blake, his partner in eight of the 12th legs of the 2013 circuit. This was the first NORCECA tournament for Davidson since she and Ayana Dyette combined in five of the first six on the calendar between late March and early May. Like Joseph T&T’s other four player over the weekend were making playing in their first NORCECA tournament this year. Abraham Eccles and veteran Christian Francois had a brutal draw and were beaten by pairs from Guatemala (21-15, 21-12), Dominican Republic (21-17, 21-14) in Group C and the No. 3 seeds from the United States (21-12, 21-4) and in Group C. James brothers, Kevin and Stephen, were completely outclassed by the eventual champs as well as pairs from Cuba and the United States Virgin Islands, but the Tobagonians whipped the Anguillan pair 21-12, 21-10 in Group A. Sergio Gonzales and Nivaldo Diaz attempted to capture their fourth title for the year, but the Cubans were denied 21-18, 21-19 in the final by top seeds Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter. Canada actually swept both titles as No.2 seeds Jamie Broder and Melissa Humana-Parades edged fifth-seeded Americans Kimberly DiCello and Summer Ross 21-17, 16-21, 15-12 for the women’s gold medal. It was the third year in a row that the NORCEA tour ended at Turtle Beach.

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