David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig secured the biggest win of their Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour careers on Sunday, when the 21-year-old Swedish claimed the title of the Tepic Elite16 event, in Mexico.
Åhman and Hellvig beat Vikings and win Tepic Elite16
After back-to-back losses to Mol and Sørum, the Swedish emerge victorious in Mexico
Published 12:31, 27 Mar 2023
After three consecutive losses to Anders Mol and Christian Sørum, the reigning European champions finally got the best of the Olympic and world champions, topping the Norwegians in the two-set (21-16, 21-15) gold medal match at the Amado Nervo Auditorium. Germans Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers finished third in Mexico.
The winners of last year’s Challenge tournaments in Kuşadası and Dubai, Åhman and Hellvig secured their first title at the Elite16 level in their third attempt after settling for silver last year in Cape Town and earlier this season in Doha, falling to Mol and Sørum on both occasions.
The Swedish victory in the gold medal match in Tepic also ended an 18-match winning streak of the Olympic champions.
“We knew that we had been close when we played them before, so we knew it was possible” Åhman reacted. “But they’re a really tough team to beat and knew we couldn’t make any mistakes. We were super focused and just gave it our all.”
After an even start to the match, the Swedish benefited from a pair of strong defensive plays from Åhman to create a two-point lead at 10-8. Their advantage immediately disappeared after consecutive errors, but the Swedish had an even better run right after that, with Hellvig blocking Sørum twice and Åhman acing Mol to score 16-12. Although the Beach Volley Vikings got to improve their production in the final portion of the set, the reigning European champions took the set 21-16 after an offensive error from Mol.
The Swedish won a couple of exciting rallies to start the second set, but Mol got his first block in the match to even the score at two points. Hellvig stopped Mol at the net a few minutes later to regain the two-point lead at 7-5, but Mol got another block to tie it again at eight points. The Swedish had an excellent run in the middle of the set, creating all sorts of problems for the Norwegians, and built a comfortable 15-10 lead. In the end, another offensive error from Mol sealed the Swedish 21-15 victory.
Wickler and Ehlers improved from their fifth-place finish at the season-opening Doha Elite16 by finishing third in Tepic and securing their third bronze medal in the Beach Pro Tour – they also made it to the podium at the Kuşadası Challenge and the Hamburg Elite16 last year.
In Mexico, the Germans triumphed in the bronze medal match, overcoming Dutch qualifiers Stefan Boermans and Yorick De Groot in straight sets (24-22, 21-16).
“The atmosphere here has been amazing,” Ehlers remarked. “I’m very proud of my partner and our entire team. It’s always fun to play on the Beach Pro Tour and the level is so high. The Dutch played so well and they put a lot of pressure on their service. I’m just happy that we managed to win it.”
From Mexico, the Beach Pro Tour heads to Australia, with a Futures event set to be played in Coolangatta Beach from Wednesday to Sunday. The next Elite16 tournament is one month away and will be held in Uberlândia, Brazil, from April 26-30.