Challenge - Espinho, POR - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News


Brazilians George and Andre took silver in a World Tour event in Espinho in 2019

The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is set to return to Espinho soon, with the Portuguese coastal city scheduled to host the fifth Challenge tournament of the 2023 season from July 13-16.

The men’s field in Portugal is going to be a strong one, with 26 countries represented among the 48 teams that will get on the court at the stadium set up at the iconic Praia da Baia, which first hosted an international beach volleyball event back in 1995.

  • Watch the Beach Pro Tour Espinho Challenge live on VBTV

Among the 96 men’s players who entered the tournament there are 20 with Olympic experience and as many as four Olympic medallists – Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Latvia’s Janis Smedins.

Brazil has four teams among the 16 duos entered directly into the main draw, including top-seeded Andre Loyola/George Wanderley and second-seeded Pedro Solberg/Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes. Also representing the South American nation will be ninth-seeded Evandro Gonçalves/Arthur Lanci and 13th-seeded Vitor Felipe/Renato Lima.

Evandro/Arthur (BRA) vs. George/Andre (BRA) - Semifinals #5012101

Evandro and Arthur Lanci are one of four Brazilian duos guaranteed in the main draw

Third-seeded Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Diaz, fourth-seeded Ukrainians Sergiy Popov and Eduard Reznik and fifth-seeded Spanish Pablo Herrera and Adrián Gavira complete the top five, followed by three European duos – Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Samuele Cottafava, the Netherlands’ Steven van de Velde/Matthew Immers and Norway’s Hendrik Mol/Mathias Berntsen.

The remaining five teams entered directly into the Espinho Challenge main draw are tenth-seeded Americans Chaim Schalk and Tri Bourne, 11th-seeded Australians Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher, 12th-seeded Americans Miles Evans and Chase Budinger, 14th-seeded Kusti Nōlvak and Mart Tiisaar, 15th-seeded Marco Krattiger and Florian Breer and 16th-seeded Portuguese João Pedrosa and Hugo Campos.

Beach Pro Tour Espinho Challenge – Men's Entry List

The Portuguese event will be the first international appearance for Cubans Alayo and Diaz since the Saquarema Challenge, in April. During the period, the Caribbeans have won the NORCECA World Championship qualifier, in June, and represented their country at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Also competing in the Central American and Caribbean Games were Mexicans Juan Virgen and Miguel Saravia, who took gold in El Salvador. The two have also been absent from the Beach Pro Tour since the Saquarema Challenge.

Returning to international competition after an even longer absence will be Israelis Eylon Elazar and Netanel Ohana. The Europeans have last appeared on the Beach Pro Tour one week before the Saquarema event, when they failed to advance in the qualifier of the Itapema Challenge.

The Espinho Challenge will also mark the return to competition of Dutch Olympian Christiaan Varenhorst. The 33-year-old blocker last competed one year ago, exactly at the Espinho Challenge, but sustained a back injury that sidelined him for some months. Varenhorst will make his first appearance with new partner Leon Luini in Portugal.

The tournament will begin with the qualifier on Thursday, when 32 teams will battle for the eight remaining spots in the main draw. The main phase of the event will have 24 duos and will begin on Friday, and end on Sunday, with the medal matches.

The Espinho Challenge will offer US$ 75,000 in prize money per gender and valuable points in the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Quick links:
Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour 2023
Subscribe to Volleyball World's Newsletter