Beach Pro Tour - News

Hughes/Cheng (USA) vs. Tainá/Victoria (BRA) - Round of 12 #14270244

Kelly Cheng on the block against Victoria Lopes in one of the Tepic eighthfinals

Pablo Herrera & Adrian Gavira qualified for the Tepic Elite16 main draw from Wednesday’s qualifiers. Three tie-breakers later, they are already in the quarterfinals. While cruising confidently towards Paris 2024, which would be a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance for Herrera (and fourth for Gavira), the Spanish veterans were among the four men’s pool winners at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour stop in Mexico to advance directly to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will be challenged by Cuba’s rising stars Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo, who dropped a stunning straight-set upset of reigning world champions Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner of Czechia in Friday’s eighthfinals. The reigning women’s world champions, USA’s Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng, also suffered an eighthfinal upset at the hands of Brazilian qualifiers Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes.

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In Pool C, Herrera & Gavira persevered through three hard-fought three-setters against top-calibre teams and won them all to top the pool standings. They started off with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-12) comeback against Italy’s Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava, followed up with a 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 16-14) victory over last week’s Guadalajara Challenge winners Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner of the United States, and finished off with a 2-1 (30-28, 19-21, 16-14) upset of third-seeded Dutchmen Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot, in which each of the sets was decided by the narrowest of margins and two were pushed to overtime.

Boermans/de Groot (NED) vs. Herrera/Gavira (ESP) - Pool C #14260746

Pablo Herrera against Stefan Boermans at the net

21-year-old Noslen Diaz and 22-year-old Jorge Alayo, who are having a very strong Beach Pro Tour season and are currently playing in their first-ever Elite16 main draw, squeezed through the pool stage as the third-placed team in Pool D on a 1-2 win-loss record and moved on to the eighthfinals, where they mastered a shocking 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) shutout of world champs Perusic & Schweiner to progress to a quarterfinal encounter with Herrera & Gavira. The Cubans look set to shoot further up the men’s provisional Olympic ranking as it gets its weekly update on Monday.

Germany’s Clemens Wickler & Nils Ehlers topped that pool after three straight-set victories, including a 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) sweep of the top-level clash with USA’s Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh. Next, Wickler & Ehlers will face Pool A runners-up Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers, one of the three Dutch teams, racing for Olympic tickets, that advanced to the eighthfinals. There Van de Velde & Immers hammered out a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) sweep of their encounter with Crabb & Brunner.

The other two Dutch duos went face to face in another eighthfinal. Boermans & De Groot managed a 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-8) comeback against Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen, who had taken third place in Pool A after an injury withdrawal from their match with Van de Velde & Immers. In the quarterfinals, Boermans & De Groot will take on Brazilian qualifiers Andre Stein & George Wanderley, who topped Pool B undefeated.

The third-placed team in that pool, Poland’s Michal Bryl & Bartosz Losiak, went on to knock Partain & Benesh out of the tournament with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) sweep of their eighthfinal encounter and moved forward to a quarterfinal meeting with top-seeded David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig of Sweden, who also topped their Pool A undefeated.

In the women’s competition, Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes narrowly made the knockouts. After three-set losses to Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson and Mexico’s Atenas Gutierrez & Abril Flores, they recovered with a hard-fought 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 16-14) comeback against fellow Brazilians Barbara Seixas & Carol Solberg to finish third in Pool D and set up an eighthfinal encounter with world champs Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng. In yet another three-set match, Taina & Victoria once again came back from a set down to celebrate a 2-1 (12-21, 21-18, 15-9) victory over the Americans and progress further to a quarterfinal match against Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands.

The sixth-seeded Dutch pair finished first in Pool C after winning all three of their matches, including a 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) shutout of third-seeded Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss and a tight 2-1 (19-21, 21-14, 19-17) comeback against Germany’s Laura Ludwig & Louisa Lippmann, who had also upset the Americans in a 2-1 (21-17, 13-21, 16-14) three-setter to finish pool runners-up.

The pairing of former Olympic and world champion Ludwig and former indoor international star Lippmann fell first victim to the heated three-way German race for the country’s two available tickets to the women’s tournament at Paris 2024, which continues full force in Tepic. In a direct all-German eighthfinal clash, Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger beat them in straight sets, 2-0 (27-25, 21-14). Borger & Ittlinger made the knockout stage as the third-placed team in Pool A, where they started with two straight-set losses, including a 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) shutout at the hands of the third German duo in the tournament, Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller, but finished with a 2-0 (21-10, 21-14) sweep of their last pool game against China’s Dong Jie & Wang Fan. Borger & Ittlinger, who started their Tepic campaign from Wednesday’s qualifiers, will now have a quarterfinal encounter with fourth-seeded Barbara & Carol.

Meanwhile, Tillmann & Muller, who finished pool runners-up, went on to produce a nail-biting 2-0 (22-20, 24-22) upset of Kloth & Nuss and advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals for a meeting with Italy’s Marta Menegatti & Valentina Gottardi. The Italians also upset world champs Hughes & Cheng with a 2-1 (13-21, 21-16, 15-13) comeback at the start of Pool B action and went on to deliver another two hard-fought victories, over Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Molly McBain and Spain’s Liliana Fernаndez & Paula Soria, to top the table.

Pool A winners Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli of Switzerland, who have not dropped a single set in Tepic so far, progressed straight to the quarterfinals, hoping to edge further ahead in the three-way Swiss race in the women’s provisional Olympic ranking. They will challenge Melissa & Brandie, who finished runners-up to Barbara & Carol in Pool D before winning an all-Canadian eighthfinal duel with Pavan & McBain by an emphatic 2-0 (21-15, 21-13).