The 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is about to resume with the season’s eighth Elite16 event. Wednesday’s qualifiers will mark the start of Paris’s sixth world-level tournament. It will be the second year in a row the Paris Elite16 is held at the Roland-Garros Stadium. The sand battles at the iconic venue will climax with the medal matches in both genders on Sunday, October 1. The top-calibre tournament takes place less than a year before the French capital hosts the 33rd Summer Olympic Games, and just a few days before the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships take off in Mexico.
Roland-Garros braces for Wednesday’s first serve at Paris Elite16
The iconic French venue welcomes the world’s elite for the second time, after last year’s debut
Publicado 01:27, 26 Sep 2023
Paris hosted its first four world-level events from 2005 to 2008, when FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam tournaments were organized in the French city. Last year, the first Paris Elite16 on the Beach Pro Tour was stage at Roland-Garros with Dutch stars Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon topping the women’s podium and reigning world and Olympic champions Anders Mol & Christian Sorum of Norway triumphant in the men’s competition.
The 2023 Paris Elite16 will get underway on Wednesday morning at 09:10 local time (07:10 UTC). The first competition day will offer the qualification battles in both genders with 16 high-level men’s and 16 high-level women’s teams competing in two knockout rounds for the four available main draw vacancies in each gender.
The women’s qualification bracket is headlined by the German pairing of former world and Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and her current partner, former indoor national team star Louisa Lippmann. 37-year-old Ludwig is aiming at her fifth Olympic appearance, but she and Lippmann have yet to win their first Beach Pro Tour medal together. They did make it to their first international podium last month, however, when they claimed bronze at the CEV European Championship in Vienna.
After claiming their first Beach Pro Tour medal at the Challenge level earlier this season, Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre will attempt to do so at the Elite16 level, but their path to the podium in Paris goes through the qualification grind, for which they are pre-seeded second on entry points.
Reigning Olympic champion Alix Klinemen is returning to international beach volleyball for the first time in almost two years, after surgery and maternity leave. The American star will make her Beach Pro Tour debut with a new partner, Hailey Harward. They come third in the qualifier bracket on entry points.
The women’s qualification entry list features a number of other prominent names like Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk, a former world champion and Olympic silver medallist, together with Rebecca Cavalcanti, two-time European champions and last year’s Paris runners-up Anastasija Samoilova & Tina Graudina of Latvia, Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists Joana Mader & Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, former world champion Sarah Pavan of Canada along with her current partner Molly McBain, and many more.
The men’s qualifier pre-seeding is led by reigning Asian champions Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert of Australia, who won their first Challenge gold in Jurmala this year and now hope to upgrade to their first Elite16 trophy, after claiming silver in Torquay some 10 months ago.
37-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian and 2015 FIVB World Championship bronze medallist Pedro Solberg of Brazil and his partner Gustavo Carvalhaes (Guto) come second down the qualifier list, while mighty Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen, 2013 world champions and 2016 Olympic bronze medallists, who will attempt to do at least as well as last year’s Paris silver, are right below them.
There is no shortage of more big names in the men’s qualifier line-up. 40-year-old three-time Olympian and 2017 World Championship silver medallist Alexander Horst of Austria will battle for a spot in the main draw alongside Julian Horl. The amazing Athens 2004 Olympic silver medallist Pablo Herrera of Spain is aiming for his sixth Olympic appearance while testing the sand in Paris with his long-time partner, three-time Olympian Adrian Gavira. Last year’s semifinalists Marco Grimalt & Esteban Grimalt of Chile and last year’s Word Championship silver medallists Renato Lima & Vitor Felipe of Brazil are also among the many players to watch in the Paris qualifiers.
A total of 56 teams from 20 different countries are set to battle it out for their share of the USD 300,000 prize purse and for valuable Olympic qualification points. The main draw action starts on Thursday, with the 16 teams in each gender split into four round-robin pools. The pool winners will advance directly to the quarterfinals, while the pool runners-up and the third-placed teams will move on to an eighthfinal round.