Plenty of teams chasing their Olympic dreams are set to compete in Qatar

Qatar’s Ahmed in spectacular action during the 2023 Doha Finals

The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is just about to pick up from where it left off. The first big stop after December’s 2023 Finals in Doha is set to take place next week, again in the Qatari capital, ready to host the first Elite16 event of 2024 from March 5 to 9.

· Watch the Doha Elite16 qualifications live on the Beach Volleyball World channel.
· Watch the Doha Elite16 main draw live on VBTV.

As the world’s highest-calibre teams get together for the first time after the off-season, it will be exciting to see them in battle for Elite16 honours again, but as usual during the final stages of the Olympic qualification process, a lot of the focus will fall on the race for Paris 2024 tickets. In each gender, 17 of these tickets will be issued through the Olympic ranking and high-level Beach Pro Tour events offer plenty of precious points towards that ranking.

And the Doha Elite16 is no exception…

While the teams already placed high in the provisional Olympic rankings can be quite certain of making it among the Paris 2024 participants, it will be most interesting to follow the pairs in the gray area around the cut-off line or the pairs from nations with more than two solid candidates for the maximum of two spots per country.

Watch out for countries’ third-ranked women’s teams!

One such case is Switzerland, which has three strong women’s duos racing with each other for two Olympic tickets. Currently, Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli are below the other two in the women’s ranking, but they are the only one of the three, pre-seeded to compete in the Doha Elite16 main draw. They will compete in Pool A with strong opposition from the world’s number one team Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) & Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil and Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy & Mariafe Artacho Del Solar of Australia.

The other two Swiss teams currently with more points than Brunner & Huberli – Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Joana Mader & Anouk Verge-Depre – will be among the 16 pairs vying for the four main draw vacancies through Tuesday’s qualifiers.

Pool B features USA’s Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss, Brazil’s Barbara Seixas & Carol Solberg and Italy’s Marta Menegatti & Valentina Gottardi, all of whom seem pretty safe for their places in Paris, but in the cases of the Americans and the Brazilians, they always have to watch out for threats from lower-ranked compatriot duos.

One of these duos, Brazil’s Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes, currently their country’s third in line for Olympic visas, will compete in Pool C against the likes of reigning world champions Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng of the United States and Dutch standouts Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon.

Germany’s Louisa Lippmann & Laura Ludwig are the team to watch in Pool D. They are also their country’s third in line in the provisional Olympic ranking, but well within reach of the tickets to Paris. They will be up against high-ranked Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson of Canada and Xue Chen & Xia Xinyi of China.

While the top-ranked German pair, Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller, will not be in Doha, the nation’s next best, Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger, will be among the several gray-area teams set to go through Tuesday’s qualification grind. Among those are Spain’s Daniela Alvarez & Tania Moreno, Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene & Aine Raupelyte, Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska & Aleksandra Wachowicz and Austria’s Dorina Klinger & Ronja Klinger.

Agatha Bednarczuk & Rebecca Cavalcanti, starting from the qualifiers as well, will also be interesting to observe. They are now the fourth highest ranked Brazilian duo, but certainly capable of pulling off a victorious sprint towards the Paris berths.

Men’s qualifier packed with Olympic ticket candidates

The men’s race for Olympic tickets seems to be a little bit tighter around the cut-off and the gray area in the men’s ranking seems to be a little bit wider.

The men’s Pool A in Doha features three of the few teams almost certain to compete under the Eiffel Tower: Sweden’s David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig, Brazil’s Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano and Germany’s Clemens Wickler & Nils Ehlers. So do Pool B with qualified world champions Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner of Czechia, Andre Stein & George Wanderley of Brazil and Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands, and Pool C with Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava of Italy, Michal Bryl & Bartosz Losiak of Poland and, less so, Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Cherif Younousse & Ahmed Tijan of Qatar.

However, the Brazilians, the Italians and especially the Dutch have to be mindful of the strong challenge that may be presented by their compatriots, currently lower in the ranking.

One of these duos, Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot, the third highest ranked Dutch team at the moment, but with plenty of potential to climb up the ladder, will challenge reigning Olympic champions and the world’s number one team, Norway’s Anders Mol & Christian Sorum, in Pool C. Also in that pool is one of at least four US duos in the race for their country’s two Olympic quotas, Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner.

Crabb & Brunner are neck and neck with Chase Budinger & Miles Evans in the ranking. Slightly above them are Miles Partain & Andrew Benesh and slightly below them are Chaim Schalk & Tri Bourne. While Partain & Benesh will skip Doha, both of the other two pairs will take to the courts for Tuesday’s qualifiers.

VW Beach Pro Tour Doha Elite16: match schedule

VW Beach Pro Tour Doha Elite16: women’s entry list

VW Beach Pro Tour Doha Elite16: men’s entry list


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