Japan and Spain’s domestic circuits get underway
With spring season in the northern hemisphere now in full swing, national beach volleyball tours start taking over as the main focal point of domestic volleyball competitions. Over the weekend, Japan’s and Spain’s extensive 2023 national circuits got underway with exciting events for men and women held in Tachikawa and Menorca, respectively.
With the weather also playing games with the athletes over the three days of the event, the Mynavi Japan Beach Volleyball Tour started with a tournament in Tachikawa, in which 12 men’s and 12 women’s pairs battled it out for the first domestic honours of the season.
The second set of the men’s final on Sunday was pushed deep into overtime. Still, Yoshiumi Hasegawa and Masato Kurasaka, who appeared at three Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures stops last year, were able to close their match against Takumi Takahashi and Yuya Ageba in straight sets, 2-0 (21-17, 30-28), to claim the season’s first tour gold. After losing one of their games and finishing second in Pool C, Hasegawa and Kurasaka pushed on victoriously through the quarterfinals, the semifinals and the final to top the podium.
“We believe in our own potential. Everyone has potential regardless of age, and it is about whether they give up or not. We don't give up and build up day by day,” 38-year-old Hasegawa said.
The team that had beaten them in the pool stage, a pairing of 49-year-old Koichi Nishimura and USA’s Troy Field, who is preparing for his return to the Beach Pro Tour, finished with the bronze medals, after a 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) shutout of Hiroyuki Seki and Yu Takuma in the third place match.
On the women’s side, Miyu Sakamoto and Mayu Sawame (pictured in the main photo, credits: jva.or.jp), who took bronze at the Subic Bay Futures in December, started the tournament with a three-set loss, 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 15-11), to Beach Pro Tour regulars Akiko Hasegawa and Yurika Sakaguchi in the pool stage, but then went on a four-game winning streak, which ended with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) shutout of the very same Akiko and Yurika in the women’s final.
The Mynavi Japan Beach Volleyball Tour podium in Tachikawa (Photo credits: jva.or.jp)
The bronze medal match offered a direct clash between another two pairs of Beach Pro Tour regulars. Asami Shiba and Saki Maruyama completed the podium after a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) sweep of Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami for the third place.
The next of a total of nine 2023 Mynavi Japan Beach Volleyball Tour stops will be held from 12 to 14 May in Hiratsuka.
A duo from England won the men’s gold at the opening event on Spain’s 2023 Circuito Nacional de Volley Playa in Menorca. 22-year-old twins Javier Bello and Joaquin Bello, who took bronze medals at the Cortegaca Futures and the Commonwealth Games last year, marched through the pool stage and the quarterfinals without losing a set, but then went through a couple of hard-fought three-setters to top the podium. In the semifinals, they claimed a 2-1 (21-10, 19-21, 15-11) victory over Javier Huerta and Alejandro Huerta, and in the final, they mastered a 2-1 (21-23, 21-14, 15-8) comeback against Sergi Rene and Oscar Jimenez.
Spain’s Circuito Nacional de Volley Playa podium in Menorca (Photo credits: rfevb.com)
Tie-breakers resolved the other two of the final four matches. After losing to Rene and Jimenez by 2-1 (17-21, 21-18, 16-14) in the semifinals, Vicente Monfort and Javier Monfort battled it out for the bronze with a 2-1 (21-17, 16-21, 20-18) victory over Huerta and Huerta.
After losing only a set in the five matches played over the three-day tournament, Belen Carro and Angela Lobato, currently ranked number 27 in the world, took the women’s gold in Menorca. In Sunday’s final, they hammered out a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) sweep of Spain’s new tandem Sofia Gonzalez and Sol Guidarelli, who are about to hit the Beach Pro Tour together.
Teresa Mas and Aina Munar persevered through a three-set duel with Nazaret Florian and Carolina Fernandez Da Silva to win the bronze medal game by 2-1 (21-19, 15-21, 15-13).
A total of 12 men’s and 12 women’s duos took part in the event. Real Federacion Espanola de Voleibol President Agustin Martin Santos led the awarding ceremony.
The Spanish tour will consist of eight events in 2023. The next one is in Canet de Berenguer from 8 to 11 June.