The integrated self-supporting eco-city of Nuvali, located within the larger city of Santa Rosa in the Philippines, has given its name to the last regular Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event of the season before next week’s Finals in Doha. The Nuvali Challenge is about to start on Thursday, November 30, and will last through Sunday, December 3. It is the 10th Challenge event of the season and the fourth in a row to take place on the Asian continent, after Goa in India, Haikou in China and Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Nuvali ready for season’s last Beach Pro Tour Challenge event
High-calibre stars are set to grace the courts in the Philippines
Published 04:15, 29 Nov 2023
Nuvali is the second venue in the Philippines to host a Beach Pro Tour event, after Subic Bay welcomed a Futures tournament last year. It will be the fourth overall world-level competition and the most prestigious one held in the country, after Manila and Boracay organized 1-star events on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The 2023 Nuvali Challenge will get underway on Thursday morning at 08:00 local time (00:00 UTC). The first competition day will offer the qualification battles in two knockout rounds with eight available main draw vacancies per gender at stake. 16 teams per gender are pre-seeded to enter the 24-duo main draw line-up directly, with the pool stage starting on Friday. The 24 teams per gender will be split into six single round-robin pools of four, with the pool winners, the pool runners-up and the two best ranked third-placed teams advancing directly to the eighthfinals. The remaining four third-placed teams will move on to a playoff round to complete the last 16 line-up.
45 women’s and 37 men’s teams from 25 countries are set to battle it out for their share of the USD 150,000 prize purse and for valuable FIVB World Ranking and Olympic qualification points.
The stellar women’s line-up is highlighted by Brazil’s Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes and Lithuania’s Anastasija Samoilova & Tina Graudina, currently ranked 13th and 14th in the world, respectively. For both teams, the Nuvali Challenge will be the last test before they hit the Doha Finals in Qatar next week to compete for the Beach Pro Tour season’s highest honours.
The world’s number 17 Joana Mader & Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, number 20 Lezana Placette & Alexia Richard of France, number 23 Jagoda Gruszczynska & Aleksandra Wachowicz of Poland and number 24 Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee & Taravadee Naraphornrapat of Thailand are also set to start their Nuvali campaigns straight from the main draw. So are two of the teams sharing the 25th position in the FIVB World Ranking, Taru Lahti-Liukkonen & Niina Ahtiainen of Finland and Monika Paulikiene & Aine Raupelyte of Lithuania.
The fans in Santa Rosa will be able to enjoy the performances of other stars of the women’s beach volleyball world, like Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Spain’s Liliana Fernandez, who are also seeded to play in the main draw, or China’s Wang Fan and Canada’s Heather Bansley & Sophie Bukovec, who will have to go through the qualifier grind on Thursday. Australia’s Georgia Johnson & Jasmine Fleming and Japan’s Miyu Sakamoto & Riko Tsujimura will be among the first to hit the sand in Santa Rosa in the morning, opening the Nuvali centre court for business.
The men’s list also features a long line of top-calibre stars, headlined by Spanish veterans, five-time Olympian Pablo Herrera and three-time Olympian Adrian Gavira, currently number 14 in the FIVB World Ranking. Number 13, Australia’s Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert, will also be joining the main draw action on Friday, in the company of another five top 30 pairs: number 21 Chase Budinger & Miles Evans of the United States, number 26 Piotr Kantor & Jakub Zdybek of Poland, number 27 Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz of Austria, number 29 Daniele Lupo & Enrico Rossi of Italy and number 30 Daniel Dearing & Samuel Schachter of Canada.
Latvian standout, three-time Olympian and three-time World Tour season champion Aleksandrs Samoilovs will be the big star of the men’s qualifiers on Thursday. He and his younger brother Mihails will try to make a Challenge tournament main draw for the second time, after doing so in Haikou at their debut at that level earlier this month.