One of the fastest-rising teams on the international beach volleyball scene, Swedish Jonathan Hellvig and David Ahman are one win away from a remarkable milestone in their young careers after they advanced to the semifinals of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event that’s taking place in Kuşadası, Turkey.
Swedish wonderkids close to first Beach Pro Tour medal
Hellvig and Ahman are among the semifinalists at the Kuşadası Challenge
Published 08:28, 21 May 2022
The 20-year-old Swedish players, who won gold at the 2018 Youth Olympics and are the reigning U21 world champions, are in a position to claim their first medal on the Beach Pro Tour on Sunday, when they can also take their country to the podium in the event for the first time.
The other three semifinalists, Germany’s Clemens Wicker/Nils Ehlers, Italy’s Adrian Carambula/Enrico Rossi and Australia’s Chris McHugh/Paul Burnett, have all made it to the final four of a Beach Pro Tour event for the first time as well.
The last day of competition at the Sevgi Plaji will feature semifinals at 16.00 and 17.00 local time / 13.00 and 14.00 GMT and the medal matches will follow at 21.00 (bronze) and 22.00 (gold) local time / 18.00 and 19.00 GMT.
· All the matches of the Kuşadası Challenge will be available to watch live or on demand on Volleyball TV.
The Swedish pair, who were fifth at the Tlaxcala Challenge and didn’t make it out of the qualifier of the Rosarito Elite16 in their first international appearances in 2022, continued their march to the semifinals in Kuşadası on Saturday with two more wins, extending their winning streak in the tournament to four matches.
In the Round of 16, Hellvig and Ahman controlled French Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat to a straight-set (21-17, 21-13) victory. In the quarterfinals, they had more work to do, but were successful again, ousting Brazilian Olympians Evandro Goncalves and Alvaro Filho in the tie-breaker (21-19, 16-21, 15-10).
“It’s our first semifinal on the Beach Pro Tour and it feels amazing,” Hellvig reacted. “The Brazilians played really well and it was a very tough match. Evandro’s serves were hard to deal with but we still managed to win and that’s awesome.”
In the all-European semifinal, Hellvig and Ahman will face Tokyo Olympian Wickler and his new partner Ehlers. The Germans joined forces ahead of the 2022 season and secured their first semifinal appearance in just their third tournament as partners, following a 19th-place finish in Itapema and a fifth in Doha.
Undefeated in their first four matches in Kuşadası, Wickler, a silver medallist at the 2019 FIVB World Championship, and Ehlers booked their places in the semifinal with a straight-set (21-17, 21-15) triumph over Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen.
On the other side of the bracket, Tokyo Olympians Carambula and Rossi recovered from a pool play upset to the Norwegians in greet style. They navigated a pair of difficult matches on Saturday, topping Americans Chase Budinger and Troy Field 2-1 (15-21, 23-21, 27-25) in the Round of 16 and the Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals in just their second event of the season.
Their opponents McHugh and Burnett are also in good form. Coming from fifth-place finishes at the Tlaxcala and Doha Challenge events, the Australians scored big two-set wins against Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira (21-17, 21-16) in the Round of 16 and the new Polish team of Piotr Kantor and Maciej Rudol (21-17, 21-15), to take another step forward and get into the dispute for medals in Turkey.