Beach Pro Tour - News


Samoilov & Smedins in action at centre court in Jurmala

Latvian stars Aleksandrs Samoilovs & Janis Smedins will represent the home country in the men’s main draw of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Jurmala Challenge event set to take place next week, from June 15 through 18. They will be among a number of top-calibre teams and players to spark excitement among the beach volleyball fans by the Baltic Sea at the fourth Challenge event of the 2023 season.

· Watch the Beach Pro Tour Jurmala Challenge live on VBTV.

Samoilovs & Smedins are one of the most successful European teams in the sport’s history. 38-year-old Samoilovs, nicknamed the Lion King, is hoping to qualify for his fourth Olympic appearance next year at Paris 2024. 35-year-old Smedins has played at “only” two Olympics so far, but earned a bronze medal at London 2012. The two have played together for over 10 years now. They were three-time FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour season champions and five-time European Championship finalists, winning the continental title in 2015 and four silver medals.

It is the currently reigning European champions, however, that lead the Jurmala list on entry points. 21-year-old Swedish jump-setters David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig, number two in the FIVB World Ranking, headline the impressive line-up of 16 duos seeded directly into the 24-team men’s main draw. They will be looking for their seventh Beach Pro Tour medal. In 2023 alone, Ahman & Hellvig have already been on two podiums, including the one at the Tepic Elite16 with gold.


David Ahman spikes past Anders Mol’s block during the 2023 Tepic Elite16 final

Next on the list are Brazil’s Pedro Solberg & Gustavo Carvalhaes (Guto). While 37-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian Pedro Solberg is after his third Beach Pro Tour medal, his younger partner is still hungry for his first medal. The two teamed up for the start of this season and have shown improvement over the two previous tournaments they played as a pair.

Last year’s Jurmala Elite16 winners Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava of Italy complete the top three of the men’s line-up. While it was the only Beach Pro Tour gold they have achieved so far, the pairing of 34-year-old three-time Olympian, Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and three-time European champion Nicolai with rising star Cottafava have also earned a silver and two bronzes on the Tour so far. They are currently the number 10 team in the World Ranking.


Nicolai & Cottafava celebrate their first Beach Pro Tour gold at the 2022 Jurmala Elite16

Brazil will be represented in the Jurmala main draw by three more pairs. Former World Ranking leaders, the team of George Wanderley and 2017 world champion Andre Stein will be after their fourth Beach Pro Tour gold, fifth overall medal and second Jurmala podium. The silver medallists of last year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Rome, Renato Lima & Vitor Felipe, will also be in Jurmala. So will Andre Stein’s partner in conquering the 2017 world crown Evandro Oliveira with his current teammate Arthur Mariano, hoping to repeat on their gold from the previous Challenge tournament in Saquarema.

Three American pairs have also made it directly to the Jurmala main draw. Saquarema Challenge runners-up Chase Budinger & Miles Evans are one of them. So are last week’s Ostrava Elite16 bronze medallists Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh. The team of 37-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian Chaim Schalk and 33-year-old Tokyo 2020 Olympian Tri Bourne will also be in Jurmala, trying to make their first Beach Pro Tour podium.

The list of 32 teams that will be trying to qualify for the eight remaining vacancies in the main draw is also packed with high-calibre pairs. The world’s number 16 Christopher McHugh & Paul Burnett and number 19 Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert, both of Australia, are among them. So are Austria’s Julian Horl & Alexander Horst, Argentina’s Nicolas Capogrosso & Tomas Capogrosso, Switzerland’s Marco Krattiger & Florian Breer and Estonia’s Kusti Nolvak & Mart Tiisaar, all from the top 30 of the World Ranking.

Recently formed noteworthy tandems still climbing their way up the World Ranking like USA’s Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner, Austria’s Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz, Italy’s Daniele Lupo & Enrico Rossi, France’s Julien Lyneel & Remi Bassereau and Latvia’s Martins Plavins & Mihails Samoilovs, to name a few, will also compete in the Jurmala qualifiers on Thursday.

The 48 men’s pairs to compete for their cut of the US$ 75,000 prize money (per gender) in Jurmala will represent as many as 25 countries on four different continents.

VW Beach Pro Tour Jurmala Challenge: men’s entry list