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Cool diversions

Don't let the summer doldrums get you down.There are plenty of fresh alternatives to busy your mind and body.
By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE - Published June 15, 2006

It's summertime, so we all get the urge to go do... something. Something different. Theme parks? Been there. Movies? Seen 'em. Sitting on the beach? Yawn.
Let's think outside the sandbox and try something new. Here's a look at some alternative forms of amusement around the Tampa Bay area. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a good place to start looking for something to do for curiosity's sake.

Play games

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Play beach volleyball away from the beach

Alan Hafez, a former volleyball player in his native Egypt, opened an amazing 20-court beach volleyball facility miles from the beach this year - on U.S. 19 near Ulmerton Road in Pinellas County. Hafez made his money in business and real estate. Now he's pursuing his dream.

The Club V Beach facility, which Hafez says is the largest in the country, has sand finer than Clearwater Beach's, without the shells or saggy nets that make beachfront play tough. The sturdy aluminum poles and heavy-gauge nets can be adjusted for men's or women's height. It's got stadium lights for nighttime play. And there's plenty of free parking.

No wonder it already has hosted national tournaments.

You don't need to have a team. Show up any time after 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and pay $5 a night for a pickup game. Hafez collects the "orphan players" and creates teams.

Join a nine-week league for $60 and you get in free on the weekends to practice. (727) 540-0222.

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