Westerville pair to play for championship
Jeff Cremeans and Evan Feltz expect to see some smirks when they compete in the USA Beach Volleyball Junior Tour championships Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, July 29, at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee.
"Most of the powerhouse teams come from California and there are a couple of good teams coming out of Florida," Feltz said. "At first they are a little bit shocked (when they hear we're from Ohio). They just think of Ohio as being all cornfields. But there is now a good amount of teams coming from Ohio. The sport is growing a lot here."
Cremeans, a junior at Westerville Central High School, and Feltz, a sophomore at DeSales who lives in Westerville, enter the event having won the 18U boys tournament at the North Coast Open on June 24 in Chicago. They defeated Kyle Losik and Trevor Stables from Naperville, Ill., 21-14, 21-15 in the final. The top four teams advanced to the national tournament, where Cremeans and Feltz have competed twice before.
They placed third in the 14U tournament in 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and were fourth in the 16U tournament in 2011 in Chicago.
"Going to the national tournament is a big deal for both of us. It wasn't like any other tournament I've ever been to," Cremeans said. "You're competing against the best of the best. To place (in the top four) there felt amazing.
"Everything is on the line at that point. There's no going back. There are no more tournaments the rest of the year. You have to do well there."
Members of their respective high school teams, Cremeans and Feltz often competed against each other in middle school. It wasn't until Cremeans filled in for someone on Feltz's club team with Vanguard Volleyball that they got to be on the same side of the court.
When he started to think about playing beach volleyball during the summer, Feltz immediately thought of Cremeans.
"In seventh grade, I was looking for something fun to do to help me get better at volleyball," Feltz said. "I saw beach volleyball as a really good opportunity to do that."
"We decided we worked really well together because we always did really well in indoor tournaments," Cremeans said.
Beach volleyball has different rules than the indoor game, but Feltz said the principles are the same.
"It definitely helps with your communication skills and your leadership skills," he said.
After three years of playing together in club and beach volleyball, Cremeans and Feltz have developed a strong line of communication.
"When we first started we really didn't know each other well. I think that is why we weren't doing so well at the beginning," Feltz said.
"We started hanging out more and became really good friends. That carries over to volleyball. It really helps when you have someone you can talk with."
Cremeans said staying on an even keel and keeping the lines of communication open are going to be keys in the national tournament.
"You have to keep a level head," he said. "When things get tough, you tend to lose a few points in a row. That bothers us sometimes. We have to put that behind us and say, 'OK, the next point counts.' "
"The goal for us this year is to do the best we possibly can," Feltz said. "It's always about getting better and having a good time. If you're not having a good time then it's not worth it."