Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira are only one victory away from making of 2023 the 11th different season in which they win an international beach volleyball medal as the Spanish veterans advanced to the semifinals of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge.
Herrera and Gavira close to winning another medal in La Paz
The Spanish are in the semifinals of the Challenge tournament held in Mexico – watch live on VBTV
Published 05:13, 19 Mar 2023
Besides Herrera and Gavira, also competing in Sunday’s semifinals in Mexico will be Brazil’s Evandro Gonçalves/Arthur Lanci, the Netherlands' Stefan Boermans/Yorick De Groot and Austria's Robin Seidl/Moritz Pristauz.
The first semifinal of the men’s tournament, set to begin at 12:00 local time (19:00 UTC), will reunite the Spanish and the Brazilians. One hour later, Dutch and Austrians will clash for the second spot in the La Paz Challenge final.
Partners since 2009, the 40-year-old Herrera and the 35-year-old Gavira have appeared in 160 international events together. The longest-lasting active partnership in international beach volleyball has generated 28 medals (seven gold, eight silver and 13 bronzes) and saw the Spanish step on the podium at least once in each season since 2009, except 2011, 2014, 2020 (when only one event was held) and 2021. In the inaugural Beach Pro Tour season, the two took silver in a Futures event in Madrid.
“It’s been a difficult year for us on the personal level and I’m glad we managed to get this result because we deserved it,” Herrera, a veteran of five Olympics, told Volleyball World. “We’re very happy to be in the semifinals and I feel that we’ve been able to raise our level during the tournament. The semifinals will be very challenging and we’ll need to start aggressively and maintain the good offensive rhythm we got into today. Hopefully we can fight for a medal, we’ll give all we have for it.”
Saturday was a challenging day for Herrera and Gavira in La Paz. In the first match of the day, in the Round of 16, the two played a long first set to beat Cubans Noslen Diaz and Jorge Alayo 2-0 (32-30, 21-16). Later, in the quarterfinals, they needed the tie-breaker to overcome French qualifiers Julien Lyneel and Rémi Bassereau 2-1 (21-13, 22-24, 15-13).
“It’s been a tough tournament because of the wind, but I feel like we’re figuring things out now,” Gavira added. “I’m very happy that we managed to secure a big win against the French, they’ve been playing really well since the qualifier.”
Their opponents Evandro and Arthur are in an entirely opposite situation as the La Paz Challenge is their first international tournament as partners. The two have, however, won events in both the South American and the Brazilian Tours since they became teammates, at the start of 2023.
The 32-year-old Evandro and the 27-year Arthur were in strong form on Saturday in La Paz, securing a pair of straight-set victories on their way to the semifinals. The Brazilians beat French Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat 21-15, 21-17 in the Round of 16 and topped Canadians Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing 21-17, 21-19 a few hours later in the quarterfinals.
Austrians Seidl and Pristauz are having a start of partnership as good as the Brazilians' as they became teammates just a month ago and have been able to display an excellent level of play over the weekend in La Paz.
The two had a mentally difficult Round of 16 duel with their former partners Philipp Waller and Martin Ermacora and came out with a two-set (21-17, 21-18) victory. Later, in the quarterfinals, they were pushed to three sets (17-21, 21-17, 15-12) by Australians Zach Schubert and Thomas Hodges, but also emerged victorious.
Playing their first tournament together in ten months, Boermans and De Groot didn't look like partners who had been separated for so long. The two returned to action in La Paz for the first time since May 2022, when De Groot was diagnosed with a thoracic hernia and was sidelined for ten months, and have been in top form, winning all four matches they played.
Their play on Saturday was absolutely brilliant as the Dutch prevailed over Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen in their three-set (21-10, 17-21, 15-9) Round of 16 duel and were even stronger in the quarterfinals, where they gave no chance to Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, beating the Americans for ths second time in the tournament, now in straight sets (21-13, 21-15).
The medal matches in La Paz will be played a few hours after the semifinals, with the duel for bronze set to begin at 17:00 local time (Monday, 00:00 UTC) and the final of the Challenge event starting one hour later.