Stage set for Super Sunday in Cobram
A weather-impacted day two of the Cobram Barooga Classic has whet the appetite for a mouthwatering finals day at Thompson’s Beach as the second round of the 2023/24 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour gets to the business end of the tournament.
On a day when the heat policy was invoked in the interests of player safety, quality shone through with the top four seeds in the men’s draw and the top two women’s teams all advancing to the semi-finals.
In the women’s draw, Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming remain on track for their fourth straight National Tour title as a combination.
The top seeds defeated Lucie Šauerová and Tarryn Angermeier in straight sets in their opening match of the day, and while fifth seeds Ruby Vanloo and Bailee Kendall pushed them in the quarters, they are safely through to Super Sunday.
After the match Fleming said there was no better place to start their 2024 campaign.
“We love it here in Cobram, we haven’t been here for a couple of years so we were excited to come back,” said Fleming. “The energy here, the vibes – it’s amazing.
“We’ve had a solid training block so excited to really start this year off hopefully with a win.”
Johnson said the Cobram Barooga Classic is a special tournament for the whole beach volleyball community, delivering an event unlike any other on the Tour.
“It’s such a cool location, to be able to play on the bank of the Murray River is pretty special,” she said. “Super unique for us as players and it’s awesome to see a lot of the locals out supporting us this afternoon and I’m sure that they’ll be out in the heat tomorrow supporting us.”
With tomorrow’s early matches moved forward an hour to avoid some of the extreme heat, the top seeds will face Šauerová and Angermeier for the second time in the tournament after they defeated Leilani Burnell and Cameron Zajer in their quarter-final.
Stefie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic have never missed a Tour final since coming together last year but needed to dig deep to make it to the semis on Saturday evening.
After conceding the first set to fourth seeds Lizzie Alchin and Jasmine Rayner in their quarter-final, the second seeds hit the accelerator, dropping just 17 points in the remaining two sets to take their place in the final four.
There they will face first-time pairing but experienced campaigners Anna Donlan and Daisy Mumby who upset third-seeds Kayla Mears and Tara Phillips.
Despite the incredible depth of the men’s draw, the top four seeds have all made it through to the semi-finals ensuring a top class battle for the medals on Sunday.
Beach Pro Tour regulars Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher have not dropped a set on their way through to the semi-finals, but they haven’t had it all their own way and have been impressed by the high standard of each encounter.
“We were saying before the tournament it’s the deepest National Tour and domestic event I’ve ever seen,” said Carracher. “It’s incredible to see those first round games and the qualifying games, the Challenger division is really gaining some traction.
“Everyone’s starting to travel for the event. Having a big Challenger division, nine courts set up on the beach after flooding last year – it’s incredible for the sport, it’s incredible for us and I think it’s really exciting for the future of volleyball here.”
Nicolaidis said that despite playing in the biggest tournaments around the world, the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour still holds a special place for the pair.
“It was our biggest regret of last year, not being able to play the National Tour,” he said. “We love coming back, especially Cobram – I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all the community here.
“Every time there’s people down on the hill, drinking beers and having a good time, lots of music playing. On the river [there’s] lots of boats coming down and it just creates an awesome atmosphere that you actually don’t get a lot of places in the world.”
Carracher and Nicolaidis will meet Ben Hood and D’Artagnan Potts who continue to grow as a team having come together late last year. The duo lost the final in the opening round of the Tour to Martin Kaufer and Ky Landers, however turned the tables on their opponents in today’s quarter-finals.
Beach Pro Tour Futures Geelong winners Paul Burnett and Jack Pearse continued their strong vein of form and enter the semi-finals having not dropped a set in Cobram. They will meet third seeds James Takken and Josh Howat who have formed a strong new combination, also claiming six-from-six sets over the opening two days of competition.
The semi-finals of the Cobram Barooga Classic start at 7am AEDT on Sunday at Thompson’s Beach.
2023/24 AUSTRALIAN BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOUR
Round 2 – Cobram Barooga Classic | Thompson’s Beach VIC
Day 3 – Sunday 4 February (play starts at 7am AEDT)
1-Georgia Johnson/Jasmine Fleming v 9-Lucie Šauerová/Tarryn Angermeier
2-Stefie Fejes/Jana Milutinovic v 7-Anna Donlan/Daisy Mumby
1-Mark Nicolaidis/Izac Carracher v 4-Ben Hood/D’Artagnan Potts
2-Paul Burnett/Jack Pearse v 3-James Takken/Josh Howat
11:30am Bronze Medal Matches
2:00pm Gold Medal Matches