Players in action during a qualifier of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge, hosted by Dubai for the first time, kicked off on Saturday with the qualifiers.
The eighth challenge tournament of the inaugural Beach Pro Tour season began today and will continue till October 25 at Kite Beach in Dubai.
The International Volleyball Federation is organizing the tournament with the support of the Dubai Sports Council and in collaboration with the Emirates Volleyball Association.
A second tournament in the same category will be held in Dubai from October 27 to October 30. The UAE has not hosted an event of such a high calibre since 2008 when the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour visited the Asian country for the first time with a two-gender Dubai Open tournament.
There are 48 women’s duos representing 21 different countries taking part in the competition.
On the opening day of the men’s competition, the two-time Olympian and former world champion Evandro Oliveira, who is competing in his second Beach Pro Tour event, with his new partner Vinicius Freitas, defeated the UAE’s pairing of Hassan and Abduljalil 2-0.
Evandro and Vinicius made a successful debut last week in the Maldives, where the Brazilian duo started from the qualifications and made it all the way to the quarter-finals.
The Omani team also started with a win after Hood and Mazen blaked the Swiss team of Zurcher and Jordan 2-0.
The Australian team led by Schubert and Hodges ehubbert and Hodges defeated Gambia’s Jawa and Jarra 2-0.
The Italians’ Jakob Windisch and Gianluca Dal Corso, who are the leading pair in entry points in the men’s qualifier bracket, also registered an easy 2-0 victory over the Oman team’s Ahmed and Haitham.
The young Italians have already won a couple of medals at the futures level on the Beach Pro Tour. It’s their fourth attempt to make it to a challenge level main draw. Out of the previous three, the most recent one in Agadir proved successful.
Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich, who has competed in the Tokyo Olympics, and his current partner Leo Dillier defeated the Egyptian team of Atef and Fayed 2-0.
Heidrich and Dillier, who are the second-ranked team on the list, have participated in all seven of the previous Challenge qualifiers and made it to the main draw three times, in Kusadasi, Agadir and the Maldives.
The ninth place at Sun Island last week was the Swiss pair’s best result so far.
Latvia’s Edgars Tocs, who made it to the Tokyo 2020 semi-finals last year alongside Martins Plavins, and his current teammate Kristians Fokerots, beat the Slovakian team that consists of Nemec L and Jany
Tocs and Fokerots are trying to qualify for a Challenge main draw for the second time after doing so back in May in Doha.
Taylor Crabb and Paul Lotman, one of three American pairs in the men’s qualifications, defeated Thai pairing T Pithak and T Poravid 2-0.
Crabb qualified for last year’s Olympics, but had to give up his spot in Tokyo due to a positive coronavirus test.
In the women’s competition, American teammates Molly Turner and Madelyne Anderson, who led the line-up on entry points, defeated Japan’s Tsubouchi and Yabumi 2-0.
This is the pair’s second Beach Pro Tour appearance, after winning Ciro Marina Futures gold on their debut in July.
Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami, at number three, are the highest seeded Japanese duo. They defeated their countrymen Motomoura and Sakai 2-0.
The pair are targeting their second challenge-level main draw participation, after their success in the Espinho qualifiers some three months ago.
Meanwhile, the International Volleyball Federation organized a tour for the media to introduce the tournament, the teams and players participating in it. The tour was held on Friday.
Members of the UAE team, the Czech Republic, Norway, and Oman were present on the occasion.