H.B. Open to draw crowds

The best from the AVP NIVEA Tour will compete for the top prize at the south side of the H.B. Pier.

June 03, 2010|By Mike Sciacca

When Brad Keenan comes to town for the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals Huntington Beach Open, there's always plenty of fanfare surrounding the local product.

For the past three years that the 1999 Fountain Valley High graduate has played in the tournament — held annually at the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier — he's been backed by a 10- to 15-member makeshift band that plays in the stands with all its might during his performances.

The renowned band — well, in certain AVP circles, anyway — will be back again this weekend, he said, to lend him support during the AVP NIVEA Tour Huntington Beach Open, presented by Bud Light Lime.


"It's great," the 28-year-old said of the impromptu musical group made up of local musicians headed by Caesar Ruiz. "I've known him (Ruiz) a long time He sold me my house."

"We're just a bunch of noise-makers," Ruiz joked, adding that the musicians will sometimes march down Main Street to the beach for Keenan's matches, just to "get the crowd riled up."

"We just have fun with it. It's not like we're a fine-tuned group or anything.

"I've known Brad for 10 to 15 years and he's a great guy and a great player. I figured it'd be great to get a group of guys together to go out and support him at the local tournaments, and that's what we do with this band. We plan on being out there again this weekend."

Fanfare aside, Keenan is focused on the Huntington Beach Open. He and playing partner Casey Jennings, husband of AVP star and U.S. Olympian Kerri Walsh, figure to be among the key tandems in contention for the men's title.

The four-day event begins at 8 a.m. today with men's and women's Open Qualifier competition. The men's and women's Main Draw starts at 9 a.m. Friday. Both the Open Qualifier and Main Draw run daily until approximately 6 p.m.

The Main Draw continues from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and again from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The women's final is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the men's final at 1 p.m.

Keenan has never won the men's title of the Huntington Beach Open, although he did reach the final two years ago playing with John Hyden.

A four-time All-American middle blocker at Pepperdine, Keenan has switched partners several times. Most recently, he played with Nick Lucena for part of the 2008 tour season and the entire 2009 season. Last year, the pair finished second once and was third on five occasions.

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