The sweet taste of victory was made even sweeter when it occurred between a local father and son at a recent beach volleyball tournament. In an extraordinary display of talent and teamwork, 47-year-old Andor Gyulai and his 16-year-old son, Thor Summers-Gyulai, emerged as champions in Jacksonville Beach’s AA tournament.
Representing the oldest and youngest players in the event, the familial pair went undefeated through all seven games. The achievement makes Thor the first high school teenager in more than five years to clinch a AA tournament championship in the Jacksonville area.
“Thor exhibited sheer determination and skill throughout the tournament, capturing the win in a thrilling match,” said Andor Gyulai, speaking as a proud father, tournament teammate, and Thor’s volleyball coach.
A sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School, Thor is recognized as one of the nation's top U16 Beach Volleyball players. Last year on his high school team, Thor led in aces and serve reception, and ranked as the second-best attacker, setting high expectations for this year’s performance.
“It would be a huge accomplishment to help lead our high school team to a state championship this year since our team has a ton of talent,” Thor said.
As a coach, Andor Gyulai sees big things in his son’s volleyball future.
“At 6 foot 4 inches tall and growing, Thor is just beginning to see his physical potential,” he said. “I have trained and coached with the best beach players in the world, and Thor is on track to be a future Olympian. We believe he could qualify for the professional beach volleyball tour as early as next year.”
Andor Gyulai has the experience to make such bold statements. He played on the UCLA Men’s Volleyball Team, which clinched the NCAA national championship his senior year in 1998. He’s got more than 50,000 hours and 30 years of coaching under his belt. At only 16 years old, he coached his high school volleyball team in South Africa.
His love for volleyball continued into adulthood where he and his wife, Vanessa Summers-Gyulai (a former top-20 ranked Florida teen tennis star), turned a passion into a profession in 2009 when they launched the first-ever volleyball video coaching website, Volleyball1on1.com. Both parents nurtured Thor’s early love for the game. Vanessa leaned on her tennis skills and coached him to perfect his serve.
In December of 2021, Andor and Vanessa moved their family of five from California to the Nocatee area when they recognized its potential for young volleyball players.
Almost as soon as their feet hit the Florida sand, they founded the St. Johns Volleyball Club, which offers training to fourth through eighth graders at Nocatee Fields Park and Fruit Cove. This works out perfectly for their two daughters, Veda, age 12, and Charlie, age 7. Not surprisingly, Veda competes in volleyball tournaments and Charlie is starting to train with the family.
Andor and Vanessa are deeply passionate about sharing their proprietary volleyball coaching tools to help future standout athletes achieve their fullest potential in volleyball and life.
“Thor's skills reached a new peak in this tournament when he sealed the win with a decisive block and dig-kill maneuver,” Andor Gyulai said. “I am just happy I can still compete with him, and it’s a bonus to win some local tournaments together.”
For more information on St. Johns Volleyball Club, go to stjohnsvolleyballclub.com.
For more information on Florida’s beach volleyball tournaments, go to ssova.com.