Brazil's Andre Loyola is excited to return to Itapema after him and partner Evandro Goncalves' victory in the National Tour
Itapema, Brazil, May 15, 2018 – The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will explore new territory this week as it heads to the southern region of Brazil for the first time in its history. The city of Itapema, in the state of Santa Catarina, is set to host the fourth four-star tournament of the 2017/2018 season in the beautiful setting of the Meia Praia Beach.
A total of 85 teams (45 women’s and 40 men’s) from 28 countries are entered to compete in the Itapema Open from Wednesday, when the qualification tournament happens, to Sunday, the day when the champions will be crowned. The event will distribute $300,000 in total prize money.
The main draw, which starts on Thursday, will feature 32 teams in each gender and they will compete in a modified pool play system where the top three tandems in each pool advance to the elimination stage. While 24 men’s and women’s teams are automatically entered in the main draw due to their entry points, the last eight spots for each gender will be in play in Wednesday’s qualifier.
The World Tour has had at least one annual stop in Brazil since 1989 and 11 different cities around the country have already staged an event. Set to join this list, Itapema hosted the third tournament of the Brazilian Tour last November.
Some of the best teams in the world will compete in Itapema, including Brazilian world champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola, who are the top-seeded team in the event. The duo, by the way, won the Brazilian Tour event in the city six months ago.
“We loved playing in Itapema in the Brazilian Tour,” Andre said. “It was one of the best, if not the best, tournament of the season. The city is very beautiful and the fans were present and super excited. They supported us both from the stands and from their balconies around the venue.”
The Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who won three of the last four World Tour tournaments they played in, including Huntington Beach’s four-star event ten days ago, and Poland’s Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor, who won a gold and a silver medal in the last two times they competed in Brazil, pose as the main threats to the Brazilians’ ambitions.
In the women’s tournament, local supporters will push the duos of Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Berti, Maria Elisa Antonelli/Carol Solberg and Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa during the week. The teams are fourth, fifth and sixth in the entry rankings and Barbara and Fernanda have just won the Huntington Beach’s four-star event, where they defeated Maria Antonelli/Carol in the gold medal match.
Canada's Melissa Humana-Paredes (right) and Sarah Pavan are among the contenders in Itapema
The top-seeded team among the women are Canada’s Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallists. Germany’s Julia Sude and Chantal Laboureur are the second-seeded while Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova are ranked third.
The qualifiers will feature a handful of well-known names as well, such as USA’s indoor Olympic champion Reid Priddy, who will pair with Jeremy Casebeer, and Norway’s up-and-coming Mathians Bernsten and Hendrik Mol.
The women’s qualification tournament will have seven Olympians competing – the Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova, Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini.