Local athletes will begin contending for division titles Thursday when the third stop on the 2014 Assn. of Volleyball Professionals Tour gets underway in Salt Lake City, Utah.

There, the top beach volleyball players, including players from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, will compete for titles in the men's and women's divisions.

Huntington Beach resident Summer Ross and teammate Emily Day (Hermosa Beach) will vie for the women's championship.

In the first two AVP events of the season, the St. Petersburg (FL.) Open (May 29-June 1) and Milwaukee Open (July 4-6), the pair finished tied for third place and equal-fifth, respectively. The team of U.S. Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross won both events.

Local players part of teams competing for the men's title are: Casey Patterson (Huntington Beach) with teammate Jake Gibb (Costa Mesa), Brad Keenan (Fountain Valley High/Costa Mesa)/John Mayer (Mar Vista), Pedro Brazao (Huntington Beach)/Steve Grotowski (Boynton Beach, Fla.), Theo Brunner (Fountain Valley)/Todd Rodgers (Solvang), Ed Ratledge (Fountain Valley High/Huntington Beach)/Ryan Mariano (Flagstaff, Az.), and Ryan Doherty (Fountain Valley)/Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

Keenan and Mayer won the St. Petersburg Open, defeating Patterson/Gibb in the final June 1. At the Milwaukee Open, Patterson/Gibb reached the semifinals and tied for third, and Keenan/Mayer tied for seventh.

At the St. Petersburg Open, Brunner/Rogers tied for fifth, Doherty/Lucena tied for seventh, and Brazao/Grotowski tied for ninth. At the Milwaukee Open, Doherty/Lucena reached the semifinals and tied for third, Brunner/Rogers tied for fifth, Brazao/Grotowski tied for seventh, and Ratledge/Mariano tied for ninth.

After the Salt Lake City Open, the final AVP tour events in 2014 are the Manhattan Beach Open (Aug. 14-17), Cincinnati Open (Aug. 28-31), Atlantic City (NJ) Open (Sept. 5-7) and the AVP Championships (Sept. 18-21) at the Huntington Beach Pier.