Top seeds Fejes/Milutinovic convey their aura of invincibility with hard-fought win in all-Australians showdown



Iran’s Abbas Pourasgari/Alireza Aghajanighasab added another 320 AVC points to their AVC Beach Volleyball Ranking record after claiming gold with remarkable unbeaten streak at the “Smart” AVC Beach Tour Nuvali Open, pulling off a stunning upset win against Thailand’s top seeds Pithak Tipjan/Poravid Taovato in the men’s final showdown at the world-class Nuvali Sand Courts by Ayala Land in City of Santa Rosa, Philippines on Sunday.


Women’s medallists

In the women’s event, Australia’s 19-year-old Stefanie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic, 22, capped an amazing season with a perfect run in the four-day Nuvali Open, seizing another gold without dropping a set to their respective rivals. Following the resounding success in the Philippines, the superb duo had already won six out of seven tournaments they had contested this summer comprising the back-to-back Beach Pro Tour Futures Coolangatta, BPT Futures Mollymook, Australian Beach Tour Mollymook and Mahindra Australian Beach Volleyball Championships. The superb duo also claimed gold for Australia at the Solomon Islands-hosted Pacific Games late last year aside from picking up silver at the BPT Futures Maunganui in New Zealand.



For Pourasgari/Aghajanighasab, the exceptional victory at the Nuvali Open was their first-ever gold in the AVC Beach Tour. However, the Iranian duo had already made their mark in international beach volleyball competitions, helping their National Federation win the AVC Continental Cup – Central Zone last September. They also claimed bronze at the last August’s BPT Futures Wenzhou Cangan in China and fourth place at the last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games, making them the first Iranian pair ever to advance to the Asian Games semifinals.

Pitak/Poravid in gold-medal match against Iranians

Seeded 11th with 300 AVC points in hand, Pourasgari/Aghajanighasab kicked off their campaign on high note, mercilessly crushing Macao China’s Cheong Houwang/Ng Loilong 2-0 (21-5, 21-7) to later see off Japan’s sixth seeds Yusuke Ishijima Gottsu/Kensuke Shoji 2-0 (21-13, 22-20) for the top spot in Pool F. In the round of 16, the promising Iranians demolished Hong Kong China’s Wong Puilam/Lau Cheukyin 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) and continued their brilliance in the highly-anticipated quarterfinals. There, Pourasgari/Aghajanighasab stunned Australian second seeds Paul Burnett/Jack Pearse 2-0 (21-16, 21-17).

An upset win against the Aussies, who netted their first BPT gold in a Geelong Futures last November and two additional silvers at the BPT Futures Coolangatta and Mollymook this March, made the Iranians a dark horse to achieve success through their pursuit of fulfillment. 



On Sunday, Pourasgari/Aghajanighasab stormed into the afternoon final showdown after managing a 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) shutout of Thailand’s third seeds Surin Jongklang/Dunwinit Kaewsai in the morning’s semifinals. Against another Thai tandem, top seeds Pitak/Poravid, in the afternoon final clash, the Iranians were incredibly dominant as they gave no chance to the last year’s Asian Championships bronze medallists in Fuzhou, China to eventually produce a surprise 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) win to reign supreme.


Iranians Pourasgari/Aghajanighasab claimed gold plus the US$2,500 cash prize and 320 AVC points, while Thailand’s Pitak/Poravid, who had grabbed their first Beach Pro Tour medal in 2022 with a Subic Bay Futures gold in Philippines, took home silver, US$2,000 cash prize and 288 AVC points.


Third-place match between Thailand and Australia

In the third-place playoff match, Australia’s fourth seeds Ben Hood/D’Artagnan Potts, who went down 1-2 (15-21, 21-18, 11-15) to Pitak/Poravid in the morning semifinals, bounced back to beat Surin/Dunwinit 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) to contend with bronze, US$1,500 cash prize and 256 AVC points. Thailand’s Surin/Dunwinit, who finished fourth place, received US$1,000 and 224 AVC points.


Hood/Potts while in the bronze-medal match against Thailand


Hood/Potts in the awards presentation

Meanwhile, it turned out to be an all-Australians title match in the women’s event. Top seeds Stefanie Fejes/Jana Milutinovic overcame Japan’s fourth seeds Suzuka Hashimoto/Reika Murakami 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) in the eagerly-anticipated semifinals on Sunday morning.

“We knew that Japan always fights. We knew it was gonna be a big match so we went out there and played our best. We played some really good volleyball today,” Fejes said.

The Australian duo had already beaten Suzuka/Reika twice in the final encounter of the 2024 Australian Beach Tour Mollymook on February 27 and the 2024 BPT Futures Mollymook on March 3.

Second seeds Jasmine Fleming/Georgia Johnson, who had claimed their first BPT gold in Geelong Futures last November and bronze at Australian Beach Volleyball Tour Mollymook and BPT Futures Mollymook this February, then defeated another Japanese duo, third seeds Asami Shiba/Saki Maruyama, 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) to assure Australia of a one-two finish at Nuvali Open.


In the final showdown, Fejes/Milutinovic had a very difficult start against Fleming/Johnson, but maintained their composure to take a hotly-contested first set 21-19. Despite a daunting challenge from the compatriots, Fejes/Milutinovic held firm to win a hard-fought set 25-23 and the title match.



Fejes/Milutinovic, who had beaten Fleming/Johnson in semifinals of the 2024 BPT Futures Mollymook, captured gold with an invincible run in the Nuvali Open. They received gold medal plus US$2,500 cash prize and 320 AVC points, with Fleming/Johnson claiming silver plus US$2,000 cash prize and 288 AVC points.



Suzuka/Reika took home bronze medal plus US$1,500 and 256 AVC points after struggling to beat fellow Japanese Shiba/Maruyama 2-1 (21-17, 16-21, 15-12) in the third-place playoff clash. For the fourth-place finish, Shiba/Maruyama, bronze medallists at the last year’s BPT Futures Seoul in Korea, received US$1,000 and 224 AVC points.








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