The second stop of the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour in Brazil, the Saquarema Challenge will be held in the coastal city in the state of Rio de Janeiro from April 13-16.
Junior world champions among Saquarema Challenge women’s contenders
The Brazilian event’s entry list features 12 players with age-group titles
Published 04:51, 30 Mar 2023
The venue set up at the Campo de Aviação will host matches from the 48 women’s teams that will compete in the tournament – 16 of these teams start directly in Friday’s main draw while the other 32 will begin on Thursday’s qualifier.
The Saquarema Challenge will have duos from as many as 20 countries on the court, with teams coming from South America, Asia, Europe and the NORCECA region. The event’s field is particularly strong when it comes to players that had success in age-group World Championships, with as many as 12 athletes who won junior world titles on the list.
Here are five junior world champions who will be in action this week in Brazil:
One of the players with the longest international careers among the ones entered to play in Saquarema, 35-year-old Brazilian Carol Salgado is a two-time U21 world champion, having won the 2004 and 2005 editions of the tournament with Taiana Lima and Camilla ‘Camillinha’ Saldanha, respectively. Carol has topped the podium in five international events after that and has a partner with even higher success in age-group tournaments in 35-year-old Bárbara Seixas, who has one U19 and a pair of U21 world titles in her resumé. The Brazilians are the top-seeded team in the Saquarema main draw.
Seeded second in the main draw with Canadian partner Sarah Pavan, 27-year-old Sophie Bukovec took her country to the top of the podium with her victory at the 2014 FIVB U21 World Championships alongside Tiadora Mitic. A blocker turned into defender, Bukovec has the silver medal won at the 2022 FIVB World Championship alongside Brandie Wilkerson as the highlight of her professional career so far.
German left-handed defender Isabel Schneider, 31, is celebrating in 2023 the ten-year anniversary of her U23 world title won alongside longtime partner Victoria Bienieck. Schneider has been a constant face in international beach volleyball for the last decade and won one of the two Challenge events held in Dubai in the Beach Pro Tour in 2022 alongside her current partner Julia Sude. The Germans are an automatic main draw team in the Saquarema Challenge, ranking third among the women’s duos.
Victoria Lopes is one of four Brazilian players that will compete in Saquarema to boast multiple age-group world titles in her career. The 23-year-old defender won the U19 World Championship in 2016 with Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and the U21 World Championship three years later with Vitoria Rodrigues. Her partner, Tainá Bigi, is also a junior world champion, having triumphed in the U21 age group back in 2013 with Duda. The two are fresh from claiming their first Beach Pro Tour medal, a bronze earned at the La Paz Challenge, and start directly in the main draw thanks to a wild card.
Polish Jagoda Gruszczynska was a part of the team with Katarzyna Kociolek that took gold in the U21 World Championship back in 2013. The 28-year-old player, who also won three age-group European titles with Kociolek and Karolina Baran, will make her debut in the 2023 season in Saquarema playing alongside partner Aleksandra Wachowicz. The two got bronze in a Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Bialystok last season. They are seeded fifth in the Saquarema qualifier.