Five Australian teams have arrived in Portugal ahead of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Espinho this weekend.
Held at the popular Praia da Baia, a venue for the sport for almost 30 years, this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event will run from Thursday, the day of the qualifiers, to Sunday, when the winners in both genders will be decided.
Espinho is one of six Portuguese cities to have hosted international beach volleyball events. The country’s unofficial capital of beach volleyball is the venue with the longest tradition of hosting events in Portugal, and also one of the most popular.
Located on the Atlantic coast, it will welcome the elite of the sport for the 17th time in 2022, a number that makes it one of the places beach volleyball returns to most often, ranking only behind Switzerland’s Gstaad (22), Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro (19) and Austria’s Klagenfurt (18).
Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar will return to Portugal this week after winning the event at the Praia da Baia in 2018.
Last week’s bronze medallists in Gstaad are ready for the challenge.
“Espinho was our first big victory at the international level, so it’s a place we have good memories,” Clancy commented.
“The wind is a real factor there, but as a jump server, I like to play in places like that. It’s a beautiful beach and a really iconic event with such a long history in international beach volleyball.
“The conditions there make it a bit difficult, but it’s nice to go back to where the game began in a certain way,” she said.
Clancy and Artacho del Solar are one of 16 women’s teams automatically qualified for the main draw, with fellow Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games team mates Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett through to the men’s main draw.
Qualifications for the Beach Pro Tour Challenge Espinho will get underway on Thursday 14 July, with three Australian teams vying for a spot in the main draw.
Phoebe Bell and Nikki Laird will contest the women’s side of the draw, with two men’s teams in Thomas Hodges/Zachery Schubert and James Takken/Max Guehrer also lining up.
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