Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour gets underway as VolleySlam continues on Gold Coast
International beach volleyball athletes from eleven participating nations have congregated on the Gold Coast for the opening day of the Volleyball World Coolangatta Beach Pro Tour Futures event.
The Futures tournament is one of the four major events in Australia’s largest beach volleyball festival, Volleyslam 2023, following the success of the Australian Championships held last weekend. The Scape Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships is currently underway, with the Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup starting on Friday.
The Gold Coast Futures event made its Volleyslam debut in 2022, following the restructure of Volleyball World’s international competition to replace the previous star-rating system, alongside the top-level ‘Elite16’ and ‘Challenge’ events.
After winning their first National Championships title on the weekend, Aussies Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming are the top seeded team in the Women’s competition and are aiming to add another medal to their growing collection.
Following their victory on Sunday, Johnson said the team were full of confidence for Futures.
“I think this will give us a lot of confidence heading into that tournament for sure, plus we’ve had some really good training reps for the Futures tournament,” Johnson said.
“It’s a beautiful beach, beautiful conditions, so we’re really excited to go out and play our hardest against some international teams and see where that takes us,” added Fleming.
Rio 2016 Olympian Nicole Laird and Britt Kendall – who finished fourth in last weekend’s Australian Championships – are seeded second in the women’s competition, ahead of Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko from Vanuatu in third. Aussies Jana Milutinovic and Stefanie Fejes are seeded sixth, but will be a team to keep an eye on as their strong form saw them win silver at the Australian Championships after a very close three-set battle with Johnson and Fleming in the final.
International teams are headlining the men’s competition with Thailand’s Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato coming in as the top seeds. The pair recently won gold at the Subic Bay Beach Pro Tour Futures event in the Philippines at the end of 2022. China’s Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu are seeded second, while Surin Jongklang and Dunwinit Kaewsai (THA) round out the top seeds.
James Takken and Solomon Bushby are the top seeded Australians in 5th, followed by 2023 Australian Championships silver medallists Lucas Josefsen and Ben Hood seeded 7th.
The qualification tournament is underway today, with teams fighting for the four available positions to move them into Thursday’s main draw. Finals will be held over the weekend with the medal matches on Sunday afternoon.