Beach Pro Tour - News

Evans/Budinger (USA) vs. Grimalt M./Grimalt E. (CHI) - Round 2 #14153856

Esteban Grimalt spikes against the block of Chase Budinger

The main draw line-ups at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Tepic are now complete after Wednesday’s qualifiers made good news for some of the candidates for Olympic tickets and not so good for others.

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Chile’s Marco Grimalt & Esteban Grimalt, who are right on the edge of the men’s provisional Olympic Ranking, managed two important tie-breaker victories to push through to the main draw in Mexico. The cousins started with a 2-1 (21-15, 25-27, 15-10) victory over Joaquin Bello & Javier Bello to knock out the English twins, who are now falling behind in chasing the Olympic dream. Then the Chileans came back from a set down to celebrate a 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-12) win over Chase Budinger & Miles Evans and book a spot among the tournament’s best 16. This loss will certainly not be helpful in Budinger & Evans’ efforts to catch up with the two American pairs, who are ahead of them in the domestic race for the maximum of two Olympic berths per country. The Grimalts will continue their Tepic campaign in Pool A along with top-seeded Swedes David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig and Dutch duos Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen and Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers.

The strong 2024 season continues for Cuba’s Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo. They look set to continue their rise in the Olympic Ranking after qualifying for their first-ever Elite16 main draw. The top-seeded team in the qualifier bracket had only one game to play on Wednesday, but they were also pushed to a tie-breaker resolution by Norwegian hopefuls for Paris 2024 Mathias Berntsen & Hendrik Mol, before producing a 2-1 (15-21, 21-12, 15-10) comeback. Diaz & Alayo will now share Pool D with USA’s Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh, Germany’s Clemens Wickler & Nils Ehlers and Mexico’s Miguel Sarabia & Gabriel Cruz.

The other two pairs successful in the men’s qualifiers were among the teams that are quite high in the Olympic Ranking and relatively confident of their spots in Paris. After knocking out Brazil’s Pedro Solberg & Gustavo Carvalhaes (Guto) in a 2-0 (21-15, 24-22) straight-setter, Spanish legends Pablo Herrera & Adrian Gavira will continue in Pool C with matches against Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava of Italy, Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner of the United States and Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands. Brazil’s Andre Stein & George Wanderley delivered two straight-set wins on Wednesday to progress to Pool B, where they will take on Poland’s Michal Bryl & Bartosz Losiak, Italy’s Adrian Carambula & Alex Ranghieri and Paris-bound world champions Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner of Czechia.

In the women’s qualifiers, Austria’s Dorina Klinger & Ronja Klinger, who are not far below the cut-off in the women’s provisional Olympic Ranking, achieved two wins on Wednesday to advance to the main draw. First, they beat France’s Lezana Placette & Alexia Richard in a hard-fought 2-1 (15-21, 24-22, 15-12) comeback. Then, they mastered a 2-0 (21-14, 21-11) shutout of the top-seeded team in the qualification bracket and direct rivals in the “gray” area of the Olympic Ranking, Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Molly McBain. The Klingers will join Pool C to compete against Netherlands’ Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon, Germany’s Louisa Lippmann & Laura Ludwig and USA’s Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss.

Spain’s Liliana Fernаndez & Paula Soria, who are right on the edge of the Olympic Ranking, also advanced to the main draw. After a 2-0 (21-11, 21-16) sweep of their game against China’s Dong Jie & Wang Fan, they will take on qualified world champions Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng of USA and Marta Menegatti & Valentina Gottardi of Italy, after starting their Pool B participation against Pavan & McBain, who advanced to the main draw as “lucky losers” after the withdrawal of China’s Xue Chen & Xia Xinyi.

Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger joined the other two German teams in the Tepic main draw to make the domestic German race for Olympic quota more and more interesting. After their narrow 2-0 (21-19, 25-23) win over Paris hopefuls Taru Lahti-Liukkonen & Niina Ahtiainen of Finland in the qualifiers, Borger & Ittlinger actually earned the opportunity for a direct face-to-face encounter with compatriots Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller in Pool A. Switzerland’s Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli will also compete in that pool. So will “lucky losers” Wang & Dong, replacing Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) & Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil, who also withdrew from the tournament.

Brazil’s Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes will take the last vacancy in Pool D, featuring their compatriots Barbara Seixas & Carol Solberg, Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson and Mexico’s representatives Atenas Gutierrez & Abril Flores. Taina & Victoria are quite high in the Olympic Ranking, but quite far below fellow Brazilians Duda & Ana Patricia and Barbara & Carol in the domestic race for Paris 2024. However, on the way to the Tepic main draw, they achieved two straight-set victories, including one against Lithuanian candidates for an Olympic ticket Monika Paulikiene & Aine Raupelyte.

Thursday’s main draw action starts at 08:00 local time (15:00 UTC).