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

BPT Unerlandia - Women Main Draw - SUIvsSUI_16

Mäder hits during the match against the Swiss

Joana Mäder has absolutely nothing to complain about the last week as on Thursday, just a few days after getting married, the Swiss Olympic medallist had a remarkable return to international competition at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Uberlândia Elite16.

The 31-year-old Mäder, who was previously known by her maiden surname Heidrich, and partner Anouk Vergé-Dépré were in strong form in their first appearance in ten months, and won a pair of pool play matches at Praia Clube to secure their spot in the elimination rounds in Brazil.

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Mäder sustained a tough shoulder injury during the bronze medal match of last year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship, in June, and after surgery, a long recovery period and months of work to regain her form, she was finally able to return to the court this week in Uberlândia.

Despite the long inactivity, partner Vergé-Dépré and her seemed to have not lost a single step as they were dominant in Pool B, winning both their Thursday matches in Uberlândia without dropping a single set.

Their first match in ten months was a familiar one as they faced Vergé-Dépré’s younger sister Zoé and her partner Esmée Böbner, downing their compatriots 2-0 (21-15, 21-15). Later, they were challenged by Dutch Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam, the fourth-best team in the FIVB World Rankings, and produced another emphatic two-set (21-19, 21-18) win.

“I’m so happy to be back on the court,” Mäder commented. “I was so excited and anxious before our morning match. I think that we played a really good match in the morning. In the afternoon, the conditions were a little more difficult to play with some rain and wind, so it wasn’t maybe our best game, but we kept fighting and managed to win.”

BPT Unerlandia - Women Main Draw - SUIvsSUI_15

Mäder and Vergé-Dépré had last played internationally in June 2022

On Friday, the Swiss Olympic medallists will try to secure the top spot in the pool in a duel with Brazilians Bárbara Seixas and Carol Salgado, who are also undefeated and guaranteed in the elimination rounds after they topped Schoon and Stam 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) and Böbner/Vergé-Dépré also in two sets (22-20, 21-17).

The winners of that match will be directly in the quarterfinals of the Uberlândia Elite16 while the duo that prevails in the encounter between Schoon/Stam and Böbner/Vergé-Dépré will be in the Round of 12.

“The Brazilians are a very good team and we’ll enjoy playing in the centre court,” Vergé-Dépré added. “I’m sure it’s going to be a nice atmosphere to play, even if the fans will obviously be all against us, but we’ll have a lot of fun.”

Beach Pro Tour Uberlândia Elite16 – Match Schedule & Results

Pool A has also completed four of its six matches on Thursday and has Brazilians Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patrícia Ramos in the lead. The reigning world champions had a strong day in their home sand Uberlândia, defeating two American teams – they first overcame Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) and then topped Julia Scoles and Betsi Flint also in straight sets (21-15, 21-17).

The South Americans will try to remain in first place in their pool and advance directly to the quarterfinals on Friday, when they face Germans Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger. The Europeans had a day of ups in downs in Uberlândia as they started strong, sweeping (21-18, 21-19) Scoles and Flint, but later couldn’t handle Kloth and Nuss, who prevailed in two sets (21-15, 21-17).

Pool C had only a pair of matches on Thursday and saw Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova, who overcame Brazilians Tainá Bigi and Victoria Lopes in two sets (21-14, 21-19), and Americans Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes, who dominated compatriots Terese Cannon and Sarah Sponcil also in straight sets (21-19, 21-17), get a head start.

BPT Unerlandia - Women Main Draw - LATvsBRA_10

Tina and Anastasia had a strong start in Uberlândia

In Pool D, two Asian teams were the first to celebrate victories in Uberlândia, with Chinese Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia upsetting Swiss Nina Brunner and Tanja Hüberli in two sets (21-15, 21-14) and Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho topping Brazilians Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitória Rodrigues in another two-setter (21-17, 21-18).

Friday’s schedule in Uberlândia starts at 08:00 local time (11:00 UTC) and the 12 remaining pool play matches will be held during the day. The four pool winners will advance directly to the quarterfinals while the second and third-placed duos in each group will move to the Round of 12.

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