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2016-12-06 10:51:00 CET

Tuesday Talent: Fort Lauderdale's finest

Nick Lucena set for Fort Lauderdale showdown

Nick celebrates winning the smart Major Hamburg – but can he win on home sand in February? Photo credit: Stefan Moertl.Nick celebrates winning the smart Major Hamburg – but can he win on home sand in February? Photo credit: Stefan Moertl.

Some say the spiritual home of beach volleyball is the Copacabana in Brazil. Others believe the golden Californian sands are the sport’s true roots.

Yet the 2017 international season will kick-off in sensational style in Florida – and one of Fort Lauderdale’s most famous sporting sons will be out to go one better than a year ago when he next steps out onto the bright white sand in February.

Nick Lucena isn’t from California – he’s Florida through and through. He and teammate Phil Dalhausser were silver medalists at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in his hometown in 2015 and you can be pretty sure that the 37-year-old will be out to turn that medal into gold come 12 February.

The Florida State graduate might not have tasted Olympic glory like his current partner Phil but the 6ft 1in defender has still enjoyed many magical moments on the sand.

Their fifth place in Rio has fueled the fire and the pair are setting their sights on glory in 2017, starting on home sand in February before aiming to sweep all before them at the World Championships in Vienna in August.

Whatever the pair go on to achieve in 2017, the last year will still be one to remember for Nick. It was the 37-year-old’s best ever on the international circuit. He had never won as many medals or collected more prize money than he did during the last season. So no wonder he’s itching to get back on the sand in front of his friends and family.

Of the 13 tournaments he played alongside Phil across the 2016 season, Nick won eight medals – half of them gold. The crowning moment was arguably the smart Major Hamburg. As Dalhausser told us in an exclusive interview, this particular victory was special because it was the first time that Nick had won a Major or Grand Slam event.

The familiar sight of Lucena digging and diving all over the court has been a highlight on the World Tour for the best part of seven years since he became a regular on the scene in 2009.

And, with Dalhausser his right-hand man, you wouldn’t bet against the duo going one better than they did the last time they set foot on the Fort Lauderdale sand following their silver at the Swatch World Tour Finals in 2015.

Can they become the hometown heroes and sweep all before them at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park? There’s only one way to find out…join us in February!

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