Spain’s Paula Soria, one of the stars in Thursday’s qualifiers in Goa
The seventh Challenge event on the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is coming to Goa this week, from October 19 through 22, and it will be the first major world-level tournament held in India.
· Watch the Beach Pro Tour Goa Challenge qualifiers live on the Beach Volleyball World channel.
· Watch the Beach Pro Tour Goa Challenge main draw live on VBTV.
Overall, it will be the fourth time India is hosting a world-level beach volleyball event. Back in 2008 and 2010, Chennai welcomed a couple of FIVB Challengers, and in 2019, the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour had a 1-star stop in Visakhapatnam, but a tournament with so many top-calibre stars as the one starting in Goa is taking place in the southern Asian country for the first time in history. The battles in Goa will unfold at the Zuri White Sands Resorts in the sands of Varca Beach in India’s smallest state.
The 2023 Goa Challenge will get underway on Thursday morning at 08:30 local time (03:00 UTC). The first competition day will offer the qualification battles in two knockout rounds with eight available main draw vacancies per gender at stake.
With 22 teams joining the women’s qualifiers, 10 have already been granted a spot in the second round and are just one win away from the main draw. Bracket leaders Liliana Fernаndez & Paula Soria (pictured in the main photo) of Spain are one of them and are already awaiting their opponents, who will emerge from the tournament opener between Czechia’s Kristyna Adamcikova & Karin Zolnercikova and Latvia’s Liva Ebere & Deniela Konstantinova.
Two of the second-round deciders have already been lined up with both opponents and they will start at 09:20 local time (03:50 UTC). In one of them, Austria’s Franziska Friedl & Katharina Schutzenhofer will take on USA’s Kimberly Hildreth & Teegan Van Gunst, and in the other, Spain’s Belen Carro & Angela Lobato will lock horns with Lithuania’s Ieva Vasiliauskaite & Erika Kliokmanaite.
Five of the 27 teams in the men’s qualifiers have earned their byes to start directly from the second round and they are Germany’s Lukas Pfretzschner & Sven Winter, China’s Wang Yanwei & Li Jie, Austria’s Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz, Australia’s Izac Carracher & Mark Nicolaidis and Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich & Leo Dillier.
The remaining 11 participants in the second round will arrive from the first round, starring 38-year-old London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and three-time Olympian Martins Plavins of Latvia along with his new 18-year-old partner Kristians Fokerots in their first Challenge-level appearance as a team. They will face the Japanese pairing of 39-year-old Tokyo 2020 Olympian Yusuke Ishijima (Gottsu) and 32-year-old Takumi Takahashi.
“We had a really nice welcome. All the people are really, really nice,” German athlete Leonie Kortzinger, who will start her Goa campaign along with teammate Lea Sophie Kunst directly in Friday’s main draw, told Prime Media Goa. “It’s our first time in India, so we are enjoying the culture and we love the food. The weather is hotter than in Germany. We really like this stadium here and I think it’s going to be a really nice tournament. We are excited to be in the main draw and we want to see where it takes us.”
A total of 81 teams from 25 different countries and all five continental confederations are set to battle it out for their share of the USD 150,000 prize purse and for valuable Olympic qualification points. The knockout qualifications will determine the eight per gender that will complete the 24-duo main draw line-up. The main draw teams will be split into six pools, with the pool winners, the pool runners-up and the two best ranked third-placed teams advancing directly to the eighthfinals. The remaining four third-placed teams will move on to a playoff round to fill up the two remaining vacancies in the last 16.
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