It’s never easy for a teenager to have to pull up stumps and move away from family and friends, but no doubt the results former Perth beach volleyballer, Paul Burnett, has been achieving this year has helped ease the pain.
The 19-year-old made the decision to move from Perth to Adelaide so he could join Volleyball Australia’s High Performance squad.
This weekend he’ll have a rare opportunity to return west, teaming up Marcus Ferguson to contest the Alcohol. Think Again WA Beach Volleyball State Open on Scarborough Beach.
“Coaches definitely made the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible,” Burnett said about his move to SA.
“The hardest lifestyle change would just have to be moving away from friends and family, and so I love to get back as much as possible.
“I love playing at Scarborough, I always have a few hits with the WA boys whenever I'm around. The wind is always challenging but Perth is the perfect place to practice playing in it.”
Burnett and Ferguson have good reason to feel confident about this weekend. They made the semi-finals of the Queensland Open last weekend, knocking off Australia’s top-ranked pair at the event, Cole Durant and Zachery Schubert, in a three-set quarter final.
“Yeah we definitely felt like we played some of our best volleyball on the weekend, and were very happy to make our first semi,” Burnett said.
“We definitely have confidence in our abilities, and like to go into every match with the belief we can win, but we always knew it was going to be a tough one and fortunately on the day we came out on top.”
Burnett and Queensland partner Ferguson, born just two days after the Western Australian, have been playing together for less than a year.
But they’ve already notched results which gives Volleyball Australia reason to be excited about their future.
“We started playing together in May and have been very busy competing since,” Burnett said.
“Our biggest achievements would have to be getting second at the U19 Asian Champs, as well as winning Oceania Champs in Fiji in November last year.
“Our long term goal is to take our volleyball as far as we possibly can, hopefully one day competing on the World Tour. But it's going to take a lot of hours of hard work and practice to make that a reality.”
Burnett and Ferguson head into the Alcohol. Think Again WA Beach Volleyball State Open as the seventh seeds, with locals Mark Van Winson and Jayson Fox number one, and Durant and Schubert two.
The women’s list is headed by the ultra-consistent Christie Jenkins and Katie Bartoli, who will start warm favourites to break through for their first tournament win of the summer.
The Open runs from Friday until Sunday at Perth’s Scarborough Beach.