Elite16 - Uberlandia, BRA - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News


Schalk and Bourne celebrate a point against Canadians Schachter and Dearing

After a difficult start as partners, Americans Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk seem to be finding their groove on the court and they earned themselves another opportunity to continue progressing as a team at this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Uberlândia Elite16.

The Olympians were among the four men’s teams that overcame Wednesday’s qualifier at Praia Clube and will be in action when the main draw begins in Brazil, on Thursday, at 08:00 local time (11:00 UTC). As many as 16 teams in each gender will be on the court and 24 pool play matches (half in each gender) will be held during the day in the Elite16 tournament.

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Bourne, 33, and Schalk, 37, announced their new partnership at the end of 2022 and their first two appearances on the Beach Pro Tour weren’t the most promising as the two picked up just two wins in seven matches to finish 19th at the La Paz Challenge and 13th at the Tepic Elite16 in March. Things started to get better for the Americans earlier this month, whey they had a good run at the Itapema Challenge, also in Brazil, finishing fifth.

On Wednesday in Uberlândia, the Americans laid the groundwork for what could be another positive result in Brazil, winning a pair of qualifier matches to make it to the main draw – they topped Dutch Leon Luini and Ruben Penninga 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) and Canadians Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing also in two sets (21-16, 21-19).

“I think that at every tournament our confidence has been growing,” Schalk reflected. “We’ve been learning each other as we go because we’re a new team and the first two tournaments were more about feeling each other out. We’re figuring our tools out and now we have different ways to win, so if one thing is not working we can try another one. I fully believe that we can go deep on the tournament and be on the podium.”


Schalk hits around Dearing's block in Uberlândia

Bourne and Schalk will have some big tests ahead of them over the next two days in Uberlândia as the Americans will be part of Pool B in the main draw, facing Sweden's David Åhman/Jonatan Hellvig, the Netherlands' Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen and Brazil's Pedro Solberg/Gustavo 'Guto' Carvalhaes in their next matches.

Spanish Pablo Herrera and Adrián Gavira, who won the La Paz Challenge last month, also made it to the main draw in Brazil with their 2-0 (21-13, 21-19) win over Argentinean brothers Nicolás and Tomas Capogrosso. The Europeans will join Pool D, where they will compete with Brazil’s Andre Loyola/George Wanderley, Italy’s Adrian Carambula/Enrico Rossi and Steven van de Velde/Matthew Immers.

French Julien Lyneel and Rémi Bassereau caused the biggest upset in the qualifier, taking down top-seeded Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt in the tie-breaker (21-15, 16-21, 15-13). In the main draw, they will go up against Norway’s Anders Mol/Christian Sørum, Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner and Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Samuele Cottafava in Pool A.

The fourth and final main draw spot was won by Vitor Felipe and Renato Lima, who prevailed in the all-Brazilian duel against Evandro Gonçalves and Arthur Lanci, winning it in the tie-breaker (15-21, 21-13, 15-13). The home team will compete with Poland's Michal Bryl/Bartosz Łosiak, Germany's Nils Ehlers/Clemens Wickler and the Netherlands' Stefan Boermans/Yorick De Groot in Pool C.

In the women’s qualifier, Esmée Böbner and Zoé Vergé-Dépré were among the four teams to advance. The Swiss had a two-set (22-20, 21-13) victory over China’s Meimei Lin/Jinjin Zeng in the morning, but had to save a pair of match points in order to come from behind and take down Brazilians Taiana Lima and Hegeile ‘Hege’ Santos in the tie-breaker (17-21, 24-22, 15-12) in the afternoon.

“I don’t think we played our best game today, but I’m very happy that we never gave up and that’s what got us the wins on both matches,” Vergé-Dépré told Volleyball World. “We were a little bit insecure during the second set against the Brazilians. We were able to control our emotions and that helped us a lot.”


Vergé-Dépré faces Hege's block during the qualifier in Uberlândia

The Swiss enter the main draw in Uberlândia determined to replicate or even surpass the success they had in recent Beach Pro Tour events held in Brazil as they were fourth at the Itapema Challenge and fifth at the Saquarema Challenge.

The stakes will be higher in Uberlândia, though, with the best teams in the world competing in the Elite16 event and the Swiss will feel it right from the start of the main draw as they’re part of Pool B alongside fellow Swiss Joana Mäder (formerly Heidrich)/Anouk Vergé-Dépré, the Netherlands’ Raisa Schoon/Katja Stam and Brazil’s Bárbara Seixas/Carol Salgado.

“With this tournament being an Elite16, it will definitely have a higher level and demand more from us,” Böbner explained. “We’re happy that we qualified for the main draw and now another battle starts. Hopefully we can play our best game and we’ll see what happens.”

The silver medallists in Saquarema, Brazilians Tainá Bigi and Victoria Lopes also advanced with a two-set (21-16, 21-16) win over Finland’s Niina Ahtiainen/Taru Lathi. They will be in Pool C alongside USA’s Kelly Cheng/Sara Hughes and Terese Cannon/Sarah Sponcil and Latvia’s Tina Graudina/Anastasija Samoilova.

Itapema Challenge champions Chen Xue and Xinyia Xia secured a straight-set (21-11, 21-19) victory against Spanish Liliana Fernandez and Paula Soria and also moved forward. The first opponents of the Chinese in the main draw will be Brazil's Andressa Cavalcanti/Vitória Rodrigues, Australia’s Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho and Switzerland’s Nina Brunner/Tanja Hüberli in Pool D.

Germans Sandra Ittlinger and Karla Borger secured the last spot in the main draw in Uberlândia and will join Brazil’s Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa/Ana Patrícia Ramos and USA’ Julia Scoles/Betsi Flint and Taryn Kloth/Kristen Nuss in Pool A. In the qualifier, they upset Saquarema Challenge champions Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi of Italy in the tie-breaker (21-17, 21-23, 15-10).

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