Hodges & Schubert take home bronze
Tom Hodges and Zac Schubert have secured more valuable ranking points in their quest for Olympic qualification with a third place finish at the Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in China over the weekend.
Entering the tournament as the third seeds, the Australians took down their Latvian and Canadian opponents on Friday to top Pool C and proceed to the Round of 16.
Their opponents were Swiss duo Adrian Heidrich and Leo Dillier who had accounted for the Hodges and Schubert in their previous two encounters, including the previous event in India.
The Australians won a tight first set before the Swiss duo hit back in the second and earn a match point at 14-13 in the third. Hodges and Schubert put on a final burst, winning four of the next five points to qualify for the quarter finals.
Later on Saturday, the Aussies accounted for their Italian opposition in just 24 minutes to advance to semi-finals against top seeds Trevor Crabb and Theodore Brunner.
The Americans took Hodges and Schubert out in the round of 16 at the World Championships in Mexico last month, however the Australians put themselves in position to take revenge with a 21-17 win in the opening set.
Crabb and Brunner took the second by the same scoreline and won the all-important opening two points of the decider.
While the teams went point-for-point for most of the third set, the Australians were unable to peg back the earlier deficit and had to settle with a place in the bronze medal match.
Waiting for them in the battle for third were Chaim Schalk and Tri Bourne, who the Australians defeated earlier this year en route to taking out the Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Latvia.
The early exchanges went as expected, however from five-all, the Australian’s won seven of the next eight points to open advantage they wouldn’t concede to take the opening set 21-15.
The second set was extremely tight, with neither side able to gain an advantage of more than two points at any time, and it was the Americans who gained the first set point at 20-19.
Staring down the pressure, Hodges and Schubert evened up the score, earned a match point of their own and when they won their third point in succession, the bronze medal was theirs.
“I think it was a true test of character today for our team because we only had about an hour in between finishing our semi-final and then having to turn around for the bronze medal match,” said Schubert. “There wasn’t a lot of time to recover, it was straight onto the next job and we’re just happy we got it done.”
Hodges said that dropping just three sets and winning five out of six matches was evidence of how the combination are building their game.
“Every time we step out on the court we’re looking to take steps towards the way that we want to be on the court and how we want to play, and I think it was a great success throughout the week to really improve and develop.”
Fellow Aussies Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher split their pool matches to also qualify for the Round of 16, however were unable to get past their American opponents in a three-set match to take away a share of ninth.
Matthew Abela and Tim Gregory took part in the opening round of qualifying but were unable to proceed following a two-set loss.
The Beach Pro Tour moves on to Thailand in two weeks time before landing in Geelong on 22-26 November.