It’s not unusual for beach volleyball teams to use the first match of a new season to get back into rhythm after a long break, but that wasn’t the case with Swedish pair David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Doha Elite16 event on Thursday.
Åhman and Hellvig hold nothing back in season opener in Doha
The Swedes start their 2023 season with a great performance in Qatar
Published 06:51, 02 Feb 2023
Back on the court for the first time after what was the best season of their still young careers, the 21-year-old Swedish had one of the strongest performances of the opening day of the main draw at the Aspire Park sports complex.
Crowned European champions in 2022, the same season in which they also won Beach Pro Tour Challenge events in Kuşadası and Dubai, Åhman and Hellvig dominated Czech qualifiers Jan Dumek and Jiri Sedlak to an emphatic two-set (21-8, 21-14) victory.
The Swedish team will complete their Pool A match schedule on Friday, when they’re expected to be strongly challenged by reigning world, Olympic and Beach Pro Tour champions Anders Mol and Christian Sørum of Norway at 13:30 local time (10:30 UTC) and Italians Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava later at 16:50 local time (13:50 UTC).
“It feels really good, it was a good first match,” Åhman said. “We missed more serves than we would have liked, but it’s good to get things going right from the beginning. We know we’re going to have two very tough matches tomorrow and we’ll try and do everything we can to play at our top level. We’ll give everything we have.”
Mol and Sørum were the other Pool A team to win their opening match in Doha as the Norwegians topped Nicolai and Cottafava 2-1 (21-15, 19-21, 15-12), securing their fourth three-set victory against the Italians in four encounters.
Pool B only featured two matches on the opening day of the main draw, with Poles Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak downing Brazilian qualifiers Saymon Barbosa and Vinicius Freitas and their compatriots Renato Lima and Vitor Felipe dominating Germans Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers.
Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt were dominant in Pool C, winning both their Thursday matches in Doha – the first against Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira and the second against Dutch Olympic medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.
Both European duos defeated Qataris Essam Mahmoud and Abdallah Nassim and now share the second place in the pool.
Finally, Italian qualifiers Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri are the only undefeated team in Pool D after they prevailed over home fan favorites Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan and Australians Paul Burnett and Chris McHugh.
The Qataris defeated Brazilians Andre Loyola and George Wanderley in their second match of the day and rank second in the pool alongside the South Americans.
The pool play stage will be completed on Friday, with another 12 matches for the male tandems. The top three teams in each pool will move forward to the elimination rounds with the pool winners advancing directly to the quarterfinals and the second and third-placed duos playing in the Round of 12.