The Hague, The Netherlands, April 1, 2015 - With the announcement of the men's pool for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015, the initial inspection of the pairings for the preliminary rounds will lead to early speculations about “easiest” and “toughest” groups.
With The Netherlands staging the 10th annual event at four sites in the European country - The Hague, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam - the Dutch men will have the “home sand” advantage especially in Pool A and E where the host nation will have their most “experienced” players competing.
With men’s pairs from 28 countries from the five FIVB confederations competing in the 10th annual FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, the 48 teams will start play June 26 at four sites in The Netherlands - The Hague, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam. The 48-team women’s competition will be held at the same time.
The top two men’s teams from each pool will advance to the opening rounds of the elimination bracket July 1 and 2 along with the eight-best third-place finishers in each group determined by point and set ratios. The first two days of play in the 32-team elimination bracket will be held at the four pool play sites. The Hague will host the semi-final and gold medal matches for both men and women on July 4 and 5.
DUTCH DELIGHT AT THE TOP - POOL A
Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst earned the top-seed in the men’s competition due to being the top team on The Netherlands’ entry list. One of the least experienced teams in the competition in terms of international events together (three FIVB World Tour events together), Nummerdor and Varenhorst netted a pair of gold medals at the end of last season in Brazil (Sáo Paulo) and South Africa (Mangaung).
The Dutch’s chief opponent in Pool A will be Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz. Both Polish players will turn 26 before the world championships and have been regulars on the international circuit for the past six seasons with 67 FIVB World Tour starts.
Kadziola and Szalankiewicz started playing in FIVB events when they turned 17 in 2006 as the pair captured junior/youth world championships in 2007 (under-19) and 2009 (under-21). The Poles also placed ninth in the 2013 world championships in Stare Jablonki where Kadziola and Szalankiewicz were the only team to defeat eventual champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands in pool play.
DEFENDING CHAMPS - POOL E
Injuries hampered Meeuwsen early during the 2014 campaign as he and Brouwer never matched the success the Dutch pair had the previous season when they “surprised” the international Beach Volleyball community by capturing the world championship trophy in Poland.
The Dutch will be challenged by pairs from Italy and Austria in Pool E. Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy are the top-ranked team in the group and have won four of five FIVB matches from Brouwer and Meeuwsen. Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl have also not fared well against the Italians by winning only once in six matches with Lupo and Nicola, but the Austrians have split four matches with the Dutch.
SENIOR CITZENS - POOLS G & I
The oldest players in the field are John Hyden (42) of the United States, and the Brazilian team of Emanuel Rego (41, turns 42 on April 15) and Ricardo Santos (40). Hyden teams with Tri Bourne as the top pair in Pool I with their toughest opponent will be Switzerland’s Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson. Hyden, the oldest player to win a FIVB World Tour event when he and his partner topped the podium last June in Berlin, and Bourne defeated the Swiss twice last season.
The case will be different for Emanuel and Ricardo in Pool G where their chief challenger will be Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain. While the Brazilians are the oldest team in the competition, the Spaniards have been playing together the past six seasons with 60 FIVB starts as a team highlighted by 10 podium placements and 15 “final four” finishes.
From 2003 through 2009, Emanuel and Ricardo ranked as one of the world’s top teams. During that period that spanned 88 FIVB events together, the Brazilians set international records for podium placements, “final four” finishes and gold medals. Emanuel and Ricardo resumed their partnership at the end of last season in Sao Paulo where the Brazilians lost to Nummerdor and Varenhorst in the finals.
NEW BRAZILIAN TEAMS - POOLS K & L
With Brazil having four pairs in the men’s competition, the teams of Emanuel/Ricardo (Pool G) and Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (Pool C) have at least played together. The pairs of Álvaro Filho/Vitor Gonçalves Felipe and Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado start the 2015 international season with no FIVB starts together. Both teams are seeded first in their pools (J and K), but will be challenged by pairs from Germany, Mexico, Spain and the United States.
Filho, who teamed with Ricardo to net the silver medal at the 2013 world championships, and Felipe will be challenged by Americans Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson and Spaniards Christian Garcia/Francisco Alfredo Marco in Pool K. Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Salgado will face stiff competition from Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif of Germany and Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico in Pool L.
2013 BRONZE MEDALISTS - POOL H
Pool H features Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany, the third-place finishers at the 2013 world championships. The Germans’ chief rivals in Pool H will be Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada and Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France. The group also includes Grant Goldschmidt/Leo Williams of South Africa, the continent’s top team.
Erdmann and Matysik have played in 57 FIVB World Tour events together, but have never advanced to a gold medal match. The other teams in the group have combined to play in 35 FIVB events. Saxton and Schalk placed fifth at the 2013 world championships and posted a third-place finish in Argentina at the end of the 2014 season. Krou and Rowlandson finished the last year with three podium placements in Xiamen (first), Doha (third) and Mangaung (third). Goldschmidt competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games with Freedom Chiya.
STIFF CHALLENGE - POOL B
In Pool B Americans Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal of the United States will be challenged by Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh of Australia and Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko of Kazakhstan. Both teams have defeated the Americans.
Kapa and McHugh ended their 2014 campaign by netting a bronze medal at the prestigious Klagenfurt Grand Slam where they posted wins over teams from Gavira/Herrera of Spain, Dalhausser/Rosenthal, Dyachenko/Sidorenko, Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland, and Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia.
OTHER POOL NOTES - POOLS C, D, F & J
Alison and Bruno’s top challenger in Pool C will be Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria. Alison, who captured the 2013 world championships in Rome with Emanuel, and Bruno have won three FIVB matches with the Austrians. Doppler and Horst competed in the London 2011 Olympic Games where they dropped a three-setter in Alison and Emanuel in pool play before upsetting Lupo and Nicolai.
Fijalek and Prudel, the winners of the FIVB stop in The Hague last season for Poland’s first-ever gold medal on the international circuit, will be tested in Pool D by Canadians Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter of Canada and Jesus Villafañe/Jackson Henriquez of Venezuela.
The Chilean cousins of Esteban and Marco Grimalt will prove to be a tough test for Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in Pool F. Experience will be a factor as the Latvians have been competing internationally since 2003 while the Grimalts have only competed in 21 FIVB events the past four seasons with 2014 being the Chileans first full campaign international.
Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia, winners of the Moscow Grand Slam last season, must defeat Theo Brunner and Nick Lucena of the United States for the Pool J title.