Sand, sun and bikini-clad babes are all involved, but life isn't just a beach for the pros in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series. The stakes are high among the players coming to Oak Street Beach Friday through Sunday for the Chicago Open, as contenders vie for a piece of the $100,000 purse. Before they hit the beach, RedEye caught up with two stars of the tour.
Christal Engle, 26, won an NCAA championship at Washington, where she was a four-time all-American. Now one of the top 25 beach players nationally, the 6-foot-2, Seattle-area native looks to add professional titles to her resume.
The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor volleyball is … everything. You have to play every position and have every skill and deal with the sand and the wind and the sun.
The best way to describe my game is … staying aggressive, fighting for every point, competing to the end and enjoying every second I'm out on the court.
The biggest misconception about beach volleyball is … that all we do is party. We like to have fun, but we work really, really hard.
The first thing I do after a long day in the sun is … go home and make food and then fall into a food coma.
The worst place for sand to get caught is … there's the obvious one—down below. But also under your top lip or under your tongue is bad too. We like to call that a sandwich. It's awful.
My second favorite beach activity is … home run wiffle ball derby. You draw a baseball circle and two different lines, one person pitching and swinging, and you have to hit a home run, it's a lot of fun.
The best way to describe Chicago beaches is … the best of both worlds. You're on the lake and on the beach but you're at this cool city too.
My perfect beach volleyball soundtrack is … anything in the top 100 songs of the summer at that time. Songs where you're definitely grooving and moving. Like hip-hop,Lady Gaga,stuff like that with a beat.
A celebrity I'd love to play beach volleyball with is … Gisele Bundchen. She's Brazilian, I've heard she's played and she's one of the hottest girls out there. And then maybe Tom Brady would show up and I'd get two for one.
Finish the phrase: Life is a beach … volleyball court, dig it.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.