CKU CAN-BRA 028

Do not be fooled by what the constantly brilliant play of Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan may have you believe: It is not easy to do what they do. It is not easy to make three finals in five events, as they have done dating back to the 2021 World Tour Finals, in Cagliari, Italy. It is not easy to beat a pair from Brazil – any pair – let alone five straight, as they did this week during the Jurmala Elite16.

It is not easy to see a two-point lead in the second set – a set that could have been the decisive one in the gold medal match against Brazil's Barbara and Carol, after winning the first, 21-19 – flip into a three-point deficit. Nor is it easy to fend off three consecutive set points, to grind and claw and dig your way back to 20-20 – only to see that effort fall short and lose the second, 22-20.

And it is especially not easy to do what they did next: Dominate so thoroughly in the third, beating Barbara and Carol, a team that has already won twice in this 2022 season, 15-7 in the third and final set, on the biggest stage yet this year.

“It’s always hard to get to championship point,” Pavan said after the win. “Barbara and Carol are a really good team and we knew we’d have to play really well to beat them and to match them. We’re just really proud and excited to win this trophy.”

There is no doubt they should be. The win marks the first for Humana-Paredes and Pavan since the Vienna Major in 2019, a surprising length of time when you take stock of just how many opportunities they’ve given themselves over those three years. Prior to Vienna, they’d won twice in four tries, at the World Championships in Hamburg and at home in the Edmonton three-star. Since? It’s been an abundance of tantalizingly close calls. A world of success, yes, but not the gold medal type to which the world had become accustomed to seeing from the Canadians.

There were the back-to-back silvers in Doha and Cancun to begin the 2021 season, a pair of fourths in Cancun and Ostrava, a bronze in Gstaad, another silver at the World Tour Finals. You’d be crazy not to look at a run such as that and be anything but pleased. With how deep this Beach Pro Tour is becoming, where teams can emerge from the qualifier and win an Elite16, as Germans Cinja Tillman and Svenja Muller did just a week ago, and Sam Cottafava and Paolo Nicolai did this week in Jurmala, to be perpetually in medal contention is an achievement, indeed.

But it’s a gold medal standard by which the best athletes are measured. And it was a gold medal that was strangely missing from the lengthy list of accomplishments from Humana-Paredes and Pavan since Vienna.

In Jurmala, that void was filled.

It was filled with, impossibly, five victories over five Brazilian teams: Fernanda Alves and Maria Antonelli, Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitoria De Souza, Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti, Eduarda 'Duda' Lisboa and Ana Patricia Silva, Carol and Barbara. That feat alone should be some sort of award.

A gold medal, though, will do just fine.

“Jurmala we love you!” Humana-Paredes told the fans, who had long been won over by these Canadians. “You’re a great crowd. Thank you for coming out in the rain and the sun and everything. You guys are the best. We love you.”