Beach Pro Tour 2022 - News

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Sander and Crabb had good moments in their first tournament together last November in Itapema

We’re just days away from the start of what will be a historic season for international beach volleyball with the new Beach Pro Tour marking the beginning of a new era for the sport.

The new event will bring together music, food and the beach lifestyle that has long been the sport’s trademark, but, above everything else, will provide the setting for exciting battles between the best teams on the planet.

As we prepare for the first-ever Beach Pro Tour tournament, the Challenge event in Tlaxcala, Mexico from March 16-20, here are six teams that you will want to follow closely throughout the season.

Mol/Sorum (Norway)

The Beach Volley Vikings are always a great team to watch and this season they carry the extra weight of being the reigning Olympic champions. At 24 and 26, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum will be the youngest players to ever enter a season in such a position. Although they’ve always been able to handle whatever situation they were faced with, it will be interesting to see how they react to the added responsibility and visibility an Olympic gold medal brings.

The Norwegians have dominated the international scene for the last four years, playing an innovative style of beach volleyball. But now their opponents have had time to analyse and find ways to neutralise their game. An extra source of motivation for them could be the upcoming World Championships, virtually the only title they’re yet to win in international beach volleyball.

Clancy/Artacho (Australia)

Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar didn’t play a lot in 2021, but they made the most of each opportunity they had to compete. They finished in the top ten in the five events they played, with the highlights obviously being their silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and their victory in the third tournament in Cancun.

With well-rested bodies, the experience earned at their second Olympic Games and two players who are entering their physical primes at 29 and 28, expect the Aussies to be even more dynamic and competitive in 2022. Not many teams in the world have their combination of aggressive serving, tall blocking and creative offence, and if they continue to explore those strengths as they have been, they’ll be as hard as ever to beat.

Bryl/Losiak (Poland)

Many considered Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak were the top Polish players during the period leading to the Tokyo Games. Excepting a tournament in Klagenfurt in 2016, when they finished fourth, they have not played together, however. The retirement of Bryl’s former partner Grzegorz Fijalek opened the doors to a new partnership, which comes at an interesting moment in the two players' careers, aged 27 and 29 respectively.

The prospect of seeing two players create something new and seeing how they can change and adapt the way they play, is always an exciting one. And especially so with these two outstanding athletes. While Losiak will now have a bigger and more physical blocker in front of him (than his former partner Piotr Kantor), Bryl will now have a skilled and creative setter to enhance and diversify his plays in attack.

Bartosz Losiak serves

Bartosz Losiak serves

Duda/Ana Patricia (Brazil)

This is a team many believe will dominate international beach volleyball for years to come - if things go right for them. Aged 23 and 24, Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos check all the boxes when it comes to modern beach volleyball. Both are tall, well-versed offensive players who are also very strong technically and can serve hard.

The two have had success together in the past, winning the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics and back-to-back editions of the FIVB U21 World Championships in 2016 and 2017. They have also proven themselves among the elite of the sport with different partners. Duda is clearly the best Brazilian defender in activity, while Ana Patricia is hands down the country’s top blocker. If they manage to combine their skills in a productive way, this should be a formidable team.

Crabb/Sander (United States)

It’s not unusual to see volleyball players transition to the sand, but not many of them have done so at the very peak of their careers. Taylor Sander took this route at the age of 29 and should have the time it takes to turn into a dominant beach volleyball player, following on from a decade of success indoors.

His decision to switch to beach volleyball couldn’t have been made at a better time. Following the legendary Jake Gibb's retirement, Sander was immediately able to secure an elite partner in Taylor Crabb, Gibb's former teammate. Longtime friends, the two have massive potential together, and there were glimpses of that potential during their first event together, last November in Itapema. With a full off-season and time to develop, this team could get to the end of 2022 at a much higher level than it starts at.

Schoon/Stam (Netherlands)

Here’s another young team with very high expectations for the long term. Raisa Schoon, 20, and Katja Stam, 23, were the youngest team at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, a year in which they also took silver at a highly-competitive European Championship. They’re yet to win an international medal together, but it would be safe to bet that will happen in 2022.

Like Brazilians Duda and Ana Patricia, the Dutch have a perfect combination of skills. The 1.92m-tall, left-handed Stam is a force at the net, who can also serve tough and handset. Schoon, on ther hand, is a defensive wizard and a crafty offensive player. With Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer entering their mid-30s, Schoon and Stam are set to become the top Dutch team on Tour and, why not, join the very elite of the sport.