Dubai, UAE - 2nd - challenge - Beach Pro Tour 2022 - News


Miles Partain dives for the ball in the Dubai 1 Challenge final

After only a day of rest and training at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour courts in Dubai, the second of two Challenge events in a row held in the UAE city will get underway with the two rounds of qualifications on Thursday, with participants from all five continental confederations hitting the sand at Kite Beach.

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Challenge events in Dubai live on Volleyball TV.

A total of 32 men’s and 23 women’s teams representing 29 different nations are set to engage in knockout battles for the eight remaining vacancies in each gender’s 24-team main draw.

Naturally, the focus in the men’s qualifier bracket will fall on the heroes of the Dubai 1 Challenge tournament, first-time Beach Pro Tour gold medallists Andrew Benesh and Miles Partain of the United States. Starting from last Saturday’s qualifications, 27-year-old Benesh and 20-year-old Partain won eight matches in a row to top the podium and become the first US team to win a men’s Beach Pro Tour gold. It was only their second appearance on the Tour as a team, after finishing fifth in the Maldives two weeks ago, and despite the great success, they are back to square one for the second Dubai event and will get their new campaign started from the qualifier grind once again.

“We will just try to keep things steady. Life is a lot of hills and valleys, and if you can steady that out, it’s testament to one’s character. So hopefully we can; we’ll see. We’ll try our best,” Partain and Benesh told Volleyball World. “The experience is great! It’s really valuable to do something that’s difficult. This is a great three tournaments in three weeks quick turnaround, which is rare, and we are really happy we get to do it. We vibe well on the court and off the court and we have a really good thing going, but we are not going to be complacent and we’ll try to push more.”

Thursday’s men’s qualifications will be graced by the presence of another four teams, who made it from the first event qualifiers all the way to the spots among the best eight of the tournament.

Logan Webber and Evan Cory, another American tandem, are one of them. They won their first six matches in Dubai, but then lost their semifinal and the bronze medal match in hard-fought three-setters to finish fourth, their best result as a pair, after the ninth place they took at their Beach Pro Tour debut in the Maldives.

The Dubai 1 Challenge was Taylor Crabb and Paul Lotman’s rookie event as a partnership. The US duo started from the qualifiers and finished among the quarterfinalists. So did France’s Calvin Aye and Quincy Aye, and Australia’s Zachery Schubert and Thomas Hodges. Both of these teams had never made it to a Challenge level main draw before.

Among the better known names to appear in Thursday’s qualification bracket are those of two-time Olympian and former world champion Evandro Oliveira of Brazil, who will play in his third Beach Pro Tour event in a pairing with Vinicius Freitas, Tokyo 2020 semifinalists Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia, who will compete with their new partners Mihails Samoilovs and Kristians Fokerots, respectively, as well as another Tokyo Olympian, Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich along with his current teammate Leo Dillier.

Two American teams from last week’s women’s qualifiers also excelled in the main draw before appearing in this week’s qualifiers again.

At their first Beach Pro Tour participation as a duo, Katie Horton and Julia Scoles made it all the way to the podium with bronze, losing only two of their seven games at Kite Beach. Their US compatriots Xolani Hodel and Hailey Harward achieved the exact same 5-2 win-loss record, enough to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament.

At the same time, German tandem Leonie Kortzinger and Lea Sophie Kunst not only made it to a Beach Pro Tour main draw at any level for the first time, but also reached the last 16, where they lost to champions-to-be Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova of Czechia to finish ninth.

Once again, there will be heavy presence by Japanese teams in the women’s qualifiers in Dubai. There will be as many as seven pairs from the Asian country, with Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami leading the bracket on entry points, followed by another Japanese duo, the pairing of Asami Shiba and 41-year-old Takemi Nishibori.