Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller celebrate victory in Ostrava

The women’s playing field in international beach volleyball is wide and level. That is certainly a conclusion that can be drawn from the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Ostrava. And it is even more true if you also consider the results of the first Elite16 event in Rosarito, back in March.

The gold and bronze medals at both events went to teams which started the tournament in the qualification bracket!

· All Elite16 and Challenge tournament matches are available to watch live and on demand on Volleyball TV.

30-year-old Cinja Tillmann and 21-year-old Svenja Muller played eight games in Ostrava, including two qualification matches on Wednesday. They won seven, five in straight sets. Their only loss came in a pool stage match after an extended tie-breaker against Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre. On their way to the top of the podium, the Germans knocked out opponents like reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, the world’s second-ranked team Barbara Seixas and Carolina Salgado and current European champions Tanja Huberli and Nina Brunner.

Before Ostrava, their best results on the Beach Pro Tour were fifth places they took for reaching the Doha Challenge and the Kuşadası Challenge quarterfinals. As Tillmann and Muller admitted after claiming the Ostrava gold, they were actually planning to play at a domestic tournament if they failed to make it into the main draw.

As a comparison, the current number one team in the FIVB World Ranking, Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands also won their first international gold two months ago at the Elite16 tournament in Rosarito, starting from the qualifiers and celebrating with the trophy after winning seven of their eight matches in Mexico.

Also doing exceptionally well in Ostrava were Swiss pair Huberli and Brunner - the top-seeded pair in the qualification bracket. They started their quest with a bye in the first round. On the way to the bronze, they played seven matches and lost only two of them, to the eventual gold and silver medallists. Their journey to the podium included wins over two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medallists, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar of Australia and compatriots Heidrich and Verge-Depre.

“After all, it was not so bad that we had a lot of games this week, because it helped us find our rhythm,” Huberli said at the end of the tournament.

Similarly, Ostrava silver medallists Talita Antunes and Rebecca Silva got their first Beach Pro Tour medal after winning seven of the eight games played in Rosarito, starting with two qualifiers and finishing with the bronze medal match.

There haven’t been any men’s Elite16 medals going to unseeded teams just yet, but with the upcoming Jurmala qualifiers featuring a stellar line-up including teams like Evandro Gonçalves/Alvaro Filho of Brazil, Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb of USA, Christopher McHugh /Paul Burnett of Australia, Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller of Austria, Marco Grimalt/Esteban Grimalt of Chile, Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain and many more, that could change very soon.

It is worth noting Herrera and Gavira’s fourth place in Ostrava, where they entered as the number 10 team in the qualifier bracket. Also worthy of note are the medals that teams from the qualifiers won at Challenge tournaments, like those claimed by Chile’s Noe Aravena and Vicente Dorguett in Tlaxcala and the Netherlands’ Leon Luini and Ruben Penninga’s in Itapema.