Beach Pro Tour - News

Switzerland’s Nina Brunner

Switzerland’s Nina Brunner

The upcoming Guadalajara Challenge on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour will be an important part of the scuffle for Olympic spots. Almost everybody without a safe bet for Paris 2024, but with a reasonable shot at the Olympic tickets, will be in Mexico for the tournament running this week, from April 11 to 14.

· Watch the Guadalajara Challenge qualifications live on the Beach Volleyball World channel.
· Watch the Guadalajara Challenge main draw live on VBTV.

Women’s line-up loaded with Olympic candidates

Fierce battles in the Guadalajara sand can be expected in the women’s tournament since the line-up will be loaded with teams from the “gray area” of the women’s provisional Olympic ranking, which can be conditionally set as those between five thousand and seven thousand points, assuming that the ones above are relatively sure of their qualification for Paris and the ones below have more distant shots at the Olympic berths.

It will be truly exciting to see how the teams that are close to the edge of the Olympic qualification cut-off, on either side of the red line, will fight for precious ranking points in Mexico. Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Molly McBain, who are currently marked as the last duo above the cut-off, are pre-seeded as the number two team in the Guadalajara main draw. Several of the teams right above them in the ranking are also set to compete in the main draw as of Friday: Spain’s Daniela Alvarez & Tania Moreno, France’s Lezana Placette & Alexia Richard (who would reserve a second spot for the host nation, if they qualify through the ranking), Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene & Aine Raupelyte, Finland’s Taru Lahti-Liukkonen & Niina Ahtiainen and Germany’s Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger.

Eager to push them out of the way and climb into a qualifying spot in the ranking, the likes of Spain’s Liliana Fernаndez & Paula Soria, Thailand’s Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee & Taravadee Naraphornrapat, Austria’s Dorina Klinger & Ronja Klinger and Czechia’s Barbora Hermannova & Marie-Sara Stochlova will do their best to perform well in the Guadalajara main draw.

Even the line-up for Thursday’s qualifications features teams that are well in contention for Paris 2024 tickets, like Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska & Aleksandra Wachowicz (Ola) or Canada’s Heather Bansley & Sophie Bukovec, who lead the qualifier bracket.

And once again, it is worth mentioning that internal race between the three leading Swiss pairs for the maximum of two Olympic tickets per gender available to a nation. They are neighbours in the ranking, crammed within a range of just 120 points, and will all compete in Guadalajara to edge ahead of their compatriots. The highest ranked of the three, Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists Joana Mader & Anouk Verge-Depre, will start their campaign from the qualifiers, while the other two, Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre and Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli are pre-seeded into the main draw, with the latter leading the bracket in the number one position.

Interestingly, only one of the three German teams engaged in a similar domestic scuffle, the above-mentioned Borger & Ittlinger, will arrive in Mexico for the upcoming tournament, hoping to catch up with higher ranked Louisa Lippmann & Laura Ludwig and Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller, who will skip the event.

Race for men’s tickets to Paris continues on all fronts

The most interesting internal race on the men’s side is that of the US teams and, once again, three of the four main candidates are set to go at it in Guadalajara. While the highest ranked of them all, Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh, who need at least two more qualifying tournaments to reach the minimum requirement of 12, have yet to make their first appearance on the 2024 Beach Pro Tour, the next two down the list, Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner and Chase Budinger & Miles Evans, will be in the Guadalajara main draw and the fourth-ranked American duo, Chaim Schalk & Tri Bourne, will try to make it to the 24-team bracket through the qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian race for two men’s tickets to Paris is a bit more polarized, with Andre Stein & George Wanderley and Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano well ahead of Pedro Solberg & Gustavo Carvalhaes (Guto) in the men’s provisional Olympic ranking. However, the latter have not given up hope and all three of these duos will compete in the Guadalajara main draw, with Evandro & Arthur in the number one seed.

Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers will be the only Dutch team in Mexico this week collecting precious points to fight off the rise of compatriots Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot and possibly narrow the distance to the country’s highest ranked pair, Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen.

Guadalajara may see a few more notable “gray area” absences in the men’s line-up than in the women’s, but with Italy’s Adrian Carambula & Alex Ranghieri, Chile’s Marco Grimalt & Esteban Grimalt, Austria’s Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz and Norway’s Mathias Berntsen & Hendrik Mol, who are currently in qualifying spots just above the cut-off, as well as Italy’s Daniele Lupo & Enrico Rossi, Lithuania’s Patrikas Stankevicius & Audrius Knasas, Portugal’s Joao Pedrosa & Hugo Campos, Cuba’s Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo, France’s Arthur Canet & Teo Rotar and England’s Joaquin Bello & Javier Bello, who are not far behind them, all in the mix, the excitement is guaranteed.