The 2005 Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) season is here. It's time for the best and brightest in the world of beach volleyball to serve, set, and spike on the Fort Lauderdale sand. The AVP Nissan Series Fort Lauderdale Open begins Friday on North Side Beach adjacent to the Yankee Clipper Hotel (1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Among the stars expected to compete in the three-day event are three-time Olympic gold medalist and beach volleyball legend Karch Kiraly, emerging talent Mike Lambert, and 2000 Olympic champions Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton. On the women's side, Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh and bronze medalists Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs will join other top females in the competition. Along with the world-class volleyball action, activities during the weekend include an X-box video gaming oasis, Sirius satellite radio listening stations, a Wilson speed zone and guessing game, and a shoot-the-breeze game and jumping test. Friday's action includes male and female qualifying, with main-draw competition on Saturday followed by the men's and women's finals on Sunday. Tickets for each session range from $15 to $50. Call 646-283-2121, or visit www.avp.com. -- Russ Evans
Marlins embark on 2005 campaign
The new-look Florida Marlins, complete with free-agent acquisition and $52 million-man Carlos Delgado, open their 2005 season Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves at Dolphins Stadium (2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami) for a 4:05 p.m. matinee affair. Joining Delgado in a stacked lineup are speedsters Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo at the top, Miguel Cabrera in the three-hole, Mike Lowell protecting Delgado in the five-slot, followed by catcher Paul LoDuca, himself embarking on his first full season with the Fish. Jeff Conine, who will split time with Juan Encarnacion in right field, and shortstop Alex Gonzalez complete an opening-day roster that some think is the best in baseball. Josh Beckett will take the mound for a third straight opening day. Veteran lefty Al Leiter has signed on for a second stint with the team, and he'll get the start for game two of the season on Wednesday. Tickets range from $3 to $60. Call 305-626-7328. -- Russ Evans
Local skaters flip funds for the Special Olympics
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You know those sweaty little boys you narced on for skateboarding in public places? They might have been training for charity! Now don't you feel mean? "It's nice for people who always think of skaters as ripping up public property to see that they are actually doing something positive," says Blair Hess, who's recruiting local skate rats and the little girls who love them to a competition benefiting the Special Olympics on Sunday. Contestants can win loads of cool merch. More important, they'll show their parents that the generation of football machismo has ended and that kids can grind out a future through skating. The contest goes down at Coral Springs Skate Park (inside Betti Stradling Park, 10301 Wiles Rd., Coral Springs). Entry fees cost $15 to $20. Call 954-564-0202. -- Jamie Laughlin
Shoot for Surf
When are the waves going to start cranking? Who's bringing the beer to the next luau? These and other pressing topics will be discussed at 7:30 p.m. Monday, during the monthly meeting of the Jupiter Noseriders Surf Club at the Jupiter Crab House restaurant (1065 N. A1A, Jupiter). Bill Davis, owner of Surferstars Photography, will be the guest speaker. Call 561-339-1817. -- Deirdra Funcheon