Top Aussie pairs make strong start in Geelong
The main draw of the Beach Pro Tour saw 16 matches played at Rippleside Beach today as Geelong Beach Volleyfest continued to build towards the final weekend.
The top two Australian teams in both the men’s and the women’s draws tasted victory on Thursday, setting themselves up for an assault on the title in the coming days.
Following the late withdrawal of Zac Schubert and Tom Hodges, Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher assumed top seeding in the men’s draw and they played like tournament favourites this morning.
Coming up against the Perth Steel pairing of Daniel Piggott and Jed Walker, Nicolaidis and Carracher showed the kind of form which took them to fourth place last week in Thailand with a commanding 2:0 (21-12, 21-12) victory.
Having been eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour quarter-finals in Geelong on Saturday, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paul Burnett and new partner Jack Pearse started the tournament in the best way possible with a solid win.
Their Kiwi opponents Juraj Krajci and James Sadlier were in good form having made their way into the main draw with back-to-back wins yesterday in qualifying, however Burnett and Pearse were too strong, winning in straight sets.
Solomon Bushby and James Takken were an injury withdrawal from last week’s event in Geelong, and the precaution taken seems to have been worth it with the No.6 seeds taking down their German opponents in three sets.
Overall, the men’s results went largely to ranking today with only Serbia’s Djordje Klasnic and Nemanja Komar scoring a victory over a higher-seeded opponent.
In the women’s draw, the top five seeds all produced victories on Thursday, including two Australian pairs.
Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming followed their national Tour victory on the weekend with their sixth-straight win, but had to do it the hard way against American qualifiers Madison Shields and Delaney Peranich.
The top seeds came from a set down and behind 6-9 in the third set before Fleming sealed the decider 16-14 with an ace.
Third seeds Kayla Mears and Tara Phillips also scored a win but were made to work hard by South Australia’s Ruby Vanloo and Bailee Kendall before triumphing 2:0 (21-18, 21-19).
Geelong-raised Stef Weiler kept the locals happy with an upset victory alongside Bec Ingram. The 10th seeds won bronze at the Australian Championships in March and upstaged seventh seed Canadian duo Alison Mckay and Katharine Wuttunee 2:0 (21-18, 21-17).
The pool stage of the Beach Pro Tour continues tomorrow at Geelong Beach Volleyfest with matches commencing at 10am AEDT.