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Jordy Smith Headlines World-Class Field for Ballito Pro

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South Africa's Jordy Smith (ZAF) headlines a world-class field for the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, which runs from June 27 - July 3 at Willard Beach in Ballito, South Africa.

Jordy Smith placed second in Heat 4 of Round Three. After spending much of 2015 on the sidelines, Smith is keen to sharpen his blade at Ballito. WSL / Kelly Cestari

As the first World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series 10,000-rated event (the highest tier of competition on the QS) of the year, the Ballito Pro has attracted entries from a dozen of the elite top 34 ranked surfers on the Championship Tour (CT). Along with some of the top surfers, another 100 international and local competitors will be vying for a share of the USD $260,000 prize purse and a big handful of the rankings points available.

Smith, who's current world No. 10, won the 2010 Ballito Pro and finished runner-up in 2013. He's determined to give his South African fans plenty to cheer about this year after an injury forced him to withdraw early from his only QS appearance on home turf last year.

Leonardo Fioravanti winning his Round Four heat. Italy's Leonardo Fioravanti is the current QS leader, and will be looking to secure another strong result in South Africa. WSL / Kelly Cestari

"The Ballito Pro is a great event and my win in 2010 is a really special memory," said Smith, who has been competing at the Ballito Pro annually since 2003. "I always want to win so badly in front of everyone at home and the support is always so crazy that I try extra hard."

The next five seeds for the 48th edition of the event -- which started out as the Durban 500 in 1969 --are Caio Ibelli (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA).

Alejo Muniz (BRA) Brazil's Alejo Muniz is the defending champion and, like Smith, he too has returned from a recent injury looking red-hot. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Other internationals to watch out for include defending event champion Alejo Muniz (BRA) and former event winners Tim Reyes (USA), brothers Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA), current QS rankings leader Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and world No. 6 Sebastian Zietz (HAW).

Caio Ibelli winning his Round Two heat. Rookie Caio Ibelli has been on a tear on the CT, and his experience battling in QS10000 events like the Ballito Pro are a good reason why. WSL / Ed Sloane

Alongside Smith, the South African challenge for the Ballito Pro title will come from Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) from nearby Umhlanga, Michael February (ZAF), the highest ranked local on the QS, and Dale Staples (ZAF). Jeffreys Bay residents Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) and Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) have been awarded the wildcards that go to the country's two highest ranked QS surfers who do not automatically qualify for the event.

Michael February was sharp all of Round 1, winning his heat and moving on to Round 2. Michael February, the highest ranked local on the QS, will get his crack at the stacked international field. WSL / KC

Casey Grant, winner of the 32-man SSA Ballito Pro Trials presented by Billabong, earned the final slot in the 112-man field.

The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy and Zigzag Surfing Magazine.

Jeremy Flores is one of many elite CT tour stars on hand to make life difficult for those with qualifying dreams.
WSL / Ed Sloane
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Jeremy Flores is one of many elite CT tour stars on hand to make life difficult for those with qualifying dreams.
WSL / Ed Sloane
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