Ostrava, Czech Republic, May 28, 2019 – The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is coming back to Ostrava for the second time as the unique venue at the Lower Vitkovice industrial heritage site welcomes the sport’s international elite for the four-star J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2019 from May 28 through June 2. This will be the eighth World Tour event to take place in the Czech Republic.
An impressive line-up of 121 teams (63 men’s and 58 women’s pairs) from 33 different nations have signed up to battle for their share of the US$ 300,000 prize money. In each gender a 32-team main draw will feature a modified pool play system with the top three teams in each four-team pool progressing into the single elimination stage. The pool winners will advance directly to the round of 16, while the pool runners-up and the third-placed pairs will play in the round of 24. With 24 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining eight spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Wednesday, May 29.
The tournament has already got underway on Tuesday with one men’s and two women’s country quota games. The guys set the tone for an exciting competition with a dramatic 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 15-10) victory for Brazil’s Andre Loyola Stein & Geroge Souto Maior Wanderley, who came back from a set down to knock out compatriots Gustavo Albrecht Carvalhaes & Saymon Barbosa Santos. USA’s women Brooke Sweat & Kerri Walsh Jennings advanced to Wednesday’s qualifications by defeating fellow Americans Betsi Flint & Emily Day by 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) and Kelley Larsen & Emily Stockman by 2-0 (21-14, 21-16).
Ostrava action underway with Tuesday’s country quota matches
The Czech women’s pair of Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova are bound to attract solid crowds to the sand courts at Lower Vitkovice again, especially after topping the podium to the delight of the home fans last year. Their World Tour medal record as a team stands at four gold, three silver and one bronze podium finishes. They are currently second in the FIVB World Ranking and first in the Ostrava preliminary seeding, based on entry points.
Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Melissa Humana-Paredes come in second. Their joint record on the Tour is quite similar to that of the Czechs – three gold, four silver and one bronze medals so far.
Agatha Bednarczuk & Eduarda Santos Lisboa complete the top three of the preliminary seeding. The successful partnership of the two Brazilians since 2017 has already resulted in three gold, three silver and four bronze medals on the World Tour, including the title from the 2018 FIVB World Tour Finals in Hamburg, but they have yet to earn their first medal in 2019.
Three USA and three German teams, two pairs each from Brazil, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and Czechia, and one each from Canada, Australia, Finland, Spain and China make up the remaining 21 already in the women’s main draw, awaiting eight more additions to emerge from Wednesday’s qualification battles.
FIVB World Ranking leaders Anders Berntsen Mol & Christian Sandlie Sorum also lead the men’s main draw line-up at Ostrava on entry points. After winning their first four gold and one silver medals on the World Tour in 2018, the Norwegians come to Ostrava as the champions of the previous two four-star events – in Itapema and Jinjiang – hoping to make it three in a row.
Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov & Oleg Stoyanovskiy come in next on entry points. 2016 Olympian and bronze medallist from the last World Championship in 2017 Krasilnikov and his 22-year-old teammate Stoyanovskiy will be looking for their fifth World Tour medal together. They teamed up for the 2019 World Tour and already topped the podium twice – at The Hague and at Xiamen.
Grzegorz Fijalek & Michal Bryl, who stand third in the current World Ranking are also in the top three on the men’s entry list for Ostrava. The Polish pair have posted four (all silver) World Tour medals so far, but have never reached the gold as a team.
Defending Ostrava champions Pablo Herrera Allepuz & Adrian Gavira Collado, who are placed second in the FIVB Ranking, are fourth in the preliminary seeding. For the well-seasoned Spaniards, who have played at two Olympic tournaments as a tandem, last year’s gold was their third on the World Tour. Since they teamed up in 2009 Herrera & Gavira have also earned seven silver and 11 bronze finishes on the Tour.
Spain’s Herrera & Gavira triumph as winners after the men’s final of Ostrava 2018
“We are so focused on this tournament. For us it’s a chance to prepare for the World Championship,” said Qatar’s Cherif Younousse on the eve of the Ostrava event. He and his partner Ahmed Tijan are fifth in the preliminary seeding, having won three bronze medals as a duo so far. “It is going to be a tough tournament, the beginning of a long and tough three-month period in Europe. It is not going to be easy mentally or physically. We have been preparing at 100 per cent to keep our level high and aim for results placing us within the top three of each tournament.”
Russia will be represented by two more duos among the ones directly seeded into the men’s main draw. Host country Czechia and Brazil will also have at least three duos each in the main draw. Among the remaining pairs, there are two from Latvia and one each from the Netherlands, Germany, Chile, Austria, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, USA and China.