Aussie Teams in Europe for next stops on Beach Pro Tour
The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is moving to Europe this week, where three Australian Teams will compete at the Challenge event in Kusadasi, Turkey, while Zac Schubert / Tom Hodges will take part in the Futures event in Greece.
For recently selected Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games athletes, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar, and Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett, the Kusadasi Challenge event marks the start of an intense seven event pre-Commonwealth Games period, which includes the World Championships in early July.
They will be joined in Turkey by Beach Pro Tour Futures Gold Coast gold medallists Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis – competing in their third Beach World Tour event – who will need to advance through the Qualification tournament on Thursday for a spot in Friday’s main draw.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Clancy and Artacho Del Solar are coming into Kusadasi as the top-seeded female team, with a fourth place finish in the recent Doha Challenge tournament and a ninth place finish from the Rosarito Elite16 in March.
“We’re excited to keep on building and growing from Doha. We had a good tournament there as our second tournament of the season so we’re looking to build on that and get on the podium” said Artacho Del Solar.
With three back-to-back weekends of European Beach Pro Tour events before the 2022 World Championships in Rome starting on 10 July, Clancy said she’s looking forward to facing some new teams but is also eager to face teams they expect to meet at Birmingham 2022.
“Turkey is our first competition in our Europe block,” she said. “There are some new junior teams coming through which is exciting as it’s always nice for us to have new teams to compete against, but we’ll also have the familiar faces.
“One of those familiar faces will be the Canadian girls [Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallists Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes], so we’re excited to hopefully compete against them on tour leading into Birmingham for some preparation.”
Chris Mchugh and Paul Burnett are seeded fourth in Kusadasi. They come into their fourth World Tour event this season off the back of a recent fifth place finish at the Doha Challenge event, a fifth place at the Tlaxcala Challenge in March, and qualification rounds of the Rosarito Elite 16.
Having been recently selected for his Commonwealth Games debut, Burnett said the Challenge event in Turkey is an important stepping stone towards the major events later in the year.
“We’re really excited going into Turkey, we had a pretty strong result in Doha last week so looking to build on that and go one better and push into the semis and finals,” he said.
“We’re definitely taking some confidence that we’re able to compete with some of the best teams in the world.
“You learn so much from playing these sort of teams so we’re trying to take what we can and put it into our game so we can keep building and getting stronger looking ahead to the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.”
The Beach Pro Tour Challenge Kusadsi event gets underway with the Qualification Tournament on Thursday 19 May, with the Main Draw starting on Friday and medal matches to be played on Sunday. Follow the action HERE.
This week will also see Zachery Schubert’s return to the World Tour. After being sidelined for the entire Australian summer beach volleyball season following knee surgery at the end of 2021, Schubert is teaming up with Tom Hodges to compete at the Rhodes Island Beach Pro Tour Futures Event in Greece, running 20 – 22 May.
“I’m pretty excited to be competing in Greece,” Schubert said. “It’s been nine months since I played my last international game which was the final for the Olympic qualifier.
“I thought my career was over when the surgeon was describing how much damage I did to my knees, however, I wouldn’t change a thing.
“In sport there are moments that can’t hold you back and I am really excited to start this new journey with Tom.
“New team, new world tour, and new opportunities!”
Schubert and Hodges are seeded eighth for the Beach Pro Tour Futures Rhodes Island event that gets underway on Friday 20 May. Follow the action HERE.
Both Beach World Tour events will be streamed live on the Beach Volleyball World YouTube