Beach Pro Tour - News

Czechia’s Krystof Jan Oliva & Vaclav Kurka celebrate in Santa Rosa (source: Český beachvolejbal)

Czechia’s Krystof Jan Oliva & Vaclav Kurka celebrate in Santa Rosa (source: Český beachvolejbal)

Two of the teams on the men’s podium at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Nuvali Futures in Santa Rosa, Philippines emerged from the qualifier grind. Three of those four athletes are just 19 years old. Czechia’s Krystof Jan Oliva & Vaclav Kurka claimed their first Beach Pro Tour gold, while Latvian teenagers Toms Liepa & Ernests Puskundzis took bronze to register their first podium on the Tour. In between, home pair James Buytrago & Rancel Varga earned the silver, also a first for them.

First Beach Pro Tour gold was also claimed by women’s winners Chenoa Christ & Anna-Lena Grune of Germany. USA’s Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen made their third podium in a row, settling for a second consecutive silver. Riko Tsujimura & Takemi Nishibori of Japan completed the podium for their first Beach Pro Tour medal, both as a team and individually.

19-year-old Krystof Jan Oliva and 20-year-old Vaclav Kurka started the tournament in the Philippines as the top-seeded team in Thursday’s qualifications and, after making their way into the main draw, continued their victorious quest to the gold, riding the wave of an overall six-game winning streak. Seeded 11th in the main draw, the Czech duo overcame ninth-seeded Hasan Huseyin Mermer & Sacit Kurt of Türkiye in a 2-0 (22-20, 21-17) semifinal and then disappointed the home crowd with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-16, 15-13) comeback from a set down against fourth-seeded Filipino pair Buytrago & Varga in Sunday’s final showdown. Unlike Kurka, for whom this was only the second Beach Pro Tour appearance, Oliva has been playing internationally since 2021 and last year he celebrated his first medal, a Lecce Futures silver.

After being knocked out in the qualifiers of last year’s Nuvali Challenge, now the 24-year-old Filipinos James Buytrago & Rancel Varga snatched the silver on their second Beach Pro Tour participation as a pair. Their four-game winning run towards the final was crowned by a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) sweep of their semifinal against Liepa & Puskundzis.

The Latvian team, who entered the tournament as the second-seeded team in the qualification bracket and then took the 12th seed in the main draw, lost only two of their seven matches in the Philippines, both to the home favourites. Finally, they recovered with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-10) sweep of the third-place game against Mermer & Sacit to earn the bronze on their third Tour appearance as a duo.

23-year-old Chenoa Christ and 22-year-old Anna-Lena Grune, seeded second in the women’s main draw, cruised through the five games they played in Santa Rosa undefeated. The only set they dropped at the tournament was in the final on the way to a 2-1 (21-12, 13-21, 15-12) victory over top-seeded Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen. Before that, in the semifinals, the Germans produced a 2-0 (21-17, 23-21) shutout of fifth-seeded New Zealanders Danielle Quigley & Olivia MacDonald. After a 2022 Baden Futures bronze, now Christ & Grune added the first gold to their Beach Pro Tour collection as a pair.

25-year-old Americans Chacon & Whalen made it to their third back-to-back podium. Starting the team’s first season on the Tour with a fourth place in Mollymook, they went on to collect a bronze at Mount Maunganui, a silver in Coolangatta, and now another silver at the Nuvali Futures, stopping just short of completing their upward climb with a first place. Their impeccable run of four straight-set wins in a row towards the final was highlighted by a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) sweep of their semifinal against Riko Tsujimura & Takemi Nishibori.

42-year-old Take and 27-year-old Riko made sure they crown their Beach Pro Tour debut as a duo with a podium finish and came back from a set down to celebrate a 2-1 (14-21, 21-15, 15-12) victory over Quigley & MacDonald in the bronze medal match.

21 men’s and 17 women’s teams representing a total of 16 different countries took part in the Nuvali Futures. The next Futures stops on the Beach Pro Tour are a men’s tournament in Madrid, Spain and a double-gender event in Pingtan, China, both from May 9 to 12.