Beach Pro Tour - News

Cherif/Ahmed (QAT) vs. Partain/Benesh (USA) - Pool A #8502680

The fifth high-level event on the 2024 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour and the second Elite16 tournament of the year is about to serve off in Mexico. Tepic will host its second world-level event this week, from April 17 to 21, after its inaugural Elite16 Tour stop in March 2023. For some high-calibre pairs, like USA’s Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh or Germany’s Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller, it will be the first appearance on the Beach Pro Tour for 2024.

· Watch the Tepic Elite16 qualifications live on the Beach Volleyball World channel.
· Watch the Tepic Elite16 main draw live on VBTV.

It is the period within the Olympic cycle, when the most focus will fall on the Olympic qualification process and especially those teams that are in the “gray” area around the cut-off line in the provisional Olympic Rankings, who are well within reach of Paris 2024 tickets, but far from feeling relatively safe for their spots under the Eiffel Tower. The above-mentioned Partain & Benesh and Tillmann & Muller are two such pairs, mainly challenged by domestic competition for the maximum of two available berths per gender per country at the Olympic tournament in the French capital. There will be plenty of more “gray” area teams competing in Tepic, especially in the qualifiers set to take place on Wednesday.

Partain & Benesh are pre-seeded directly among the 12 men’s teams that will start their campaigns directly from the 16-team main draw. They will be the fourth seed in the bracket and will compete in Pool D, along with fifth-seeded Germans Clemens Wickler & Nils Ehlers, host country representatives Miguel Sarabia & Gabriel Cruz and a team emerging from the qualifiers. Partain & Benesh are currently the second highest placed American team in the men’s provisional Olympic ranking, and both pairs below them, Chase Budinger & Miles Evans and Chaim Schalk & Tri Bourne, are among those competing in Wednesday’s qualifications.

The highest ranked US duo, Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner, who are just 100 points above Partain & Benesh will start the Tepic main draw in Pool C, with sixth-seeded Italians Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava, who can be quite confident about their spot in Paris, and third-seeded Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands, who also face domestic challenges in the race for the Olympics.

First, Boermans & De Groot have four more qualifying tournaments to play before meeting the minimum 12-event criterion, and then, they have to collect enough points to surpass at least one of the Dutch teams, currently above them in the ranking, Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen and Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers, both of whom are also in the Tepic main draw. The two duos will actually compete against each other in a tough Pool A, also in the company of top-seeded Swedes David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig, ranked second in the Olympic ranking, who will reach the 12-tournament mark this week and practically secure their trip to Paris.

Poland’s Michal Bryl & Bartosz Losiak will also play their 12th qualifying tournament this week, starting from Pool B, but they are much closer to the red line in the Olympic ranking and need to improve their point totals to feel safer on the road to Paris. Reigning world champions Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner of Czechia, the only team to have formally qualified for the Games at this point, and Italy’s Adrian Carambula & Alex Ranghieri, who are also a pretty safe bet for an Olympic spot, are the other two duos set to compete in that pool.

The 16-team line-up for the qualifiers features both pairs, who can be quite sure of making it to Paris this summer, like Brazil’s Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano and Andre Stein & George Wanderley, or Spain’s Pablo Herrera & Adrian Gavira, and pairs from the “gray” area, who desperately need points, if they want to make the cut, like Cuba’s Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo, England’s Joaquin Bello & Javier Bello, Norway’s Mathias Berntsen & Hendrik Mol, Austria’s Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz, Lithuania’s Patrikas Stankevicius & Audrius Knasas or Chile’s Marco Grimalt & Esteban Grimalt.

Olympic host country France have one guaranteed berth per gender at the Games, but at least three serious contenders for the men’s spot, all of them running quite close in the Olympic ranking. Only the lowest ranked of the three, however - Youssef Krou & Arnaud Gauthier-Rat – made the cut for the Tepic qualifiers.

Müller/Tillmann (GER) vs. Nuss/Kloth (USA) - Final 1st Place #8576280

Svenja Muller in attack during the 2023 Doha Finals gold medal match

Tillmann & Muller are also set to start their Tepic campaign directly from the main draw. Despite not having competed since the 2023 Finals in Doha, they are positioned relatively high in the women’s provisional Olympic ranking, but with a couple of other German pairs not far behind them and eager to challenge them for a place in Paris. Their opponents in Pool A, Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli of Switzerland, are in a similar situation. But while the latter will be the only Swiss team in Tepic, both of Tillmann & Muller’s fellow German rivals will be in Mexico. Louisa Lippmann & Laura Ludwig will also start from the main draw, while Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger will have to go through the qualifier grind. Pool A is headed by the world’s number one team, Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) & Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil, who have no reason to worry about their spot at the Games this summer.

Lippmann & Ludwig are in Pool C, also in the company of teams that are highly expected to qualify for Paris – USA’s Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss and Netherlands’ Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon.

Qualified world champions Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng will compete in Pool B. Pretty safe bets for the Olympics in that pool are also China’s Xue Chen & Xia Xinyi and Italy’s Marta Menegatti & Valentina Gottardi.

So are Brazil’s Barbara Seixas & Carol Solberg and Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson, who will be challenged by Mexico’s representatives Atenas Gutierrez & Abril Flores in Pool D.

Wednesday’s qualification bracket, however, features a long line of “gray” area teams and the fans can expect fierce battles for the four main draw vacancies. In addition to Borger & Ittlinger, among the teams to watch are the highest placed qualifier team in the Olympic Ranking, Spain’s Daniela Alvarez & Tania Moreno, France’s Lezana Placette & Alexia Richard, Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene & Aine Raupelyte, Finland’s Taru Lahti-Liukkonen & Niina Ahtiainen, Spain’s Liliana Fernаndez & Paula Soria, Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Molly McBain, Austria’s Dorina Klinger & Ronja Klinger and Czechia’s Barbora Hermannova & Marie-Sara Stochlova, all of whom are well within reach of the Paris 2024 tickets.