FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour kicks off in Antalya
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, which presents the FIVB Antalya Open, kicked off in the Mediterranean province on May 10.
“Antalya is one of the best locations to play beach volleyball, so it’s important to host such events to grow beach volleyball in Turkey. It’s a great opportunity for Antalya and Turkey,” FIVB Technical Director Levan Akhvlediani said in a statement before the tournament.
The $150,000 Antalya Open is part of the qualifying process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to be played on iconic Copacabana Beach on Aug. 6-18.
“It is extremely important for our national teams participating in this tournament, as it will help them gain precious points to support their aim of going to Rio,” said Turkish Volleyball Federation Beach Volleyball Director Oguz Değirmenci at a press conference.
“We are very proud and happy to host the world’s best beach volleyball players here in Antalya,” he added.
Eight Turkish teams will take part in the competition.
The May 10 qualifier advanced eight teams to the women’s main draw, where 48 pool play matches will be contested May 11 and 12 followed by three rounds of elimination bracket competition on May 13 to set the lineup for the May 14 semi-finals and medal matches.
The men’s schedule in the FIVB World Tour event will feature a qualifier on May 11 followed by main draw pool play matches on May 12 and 13 and elimination on May 14. The semi-finals and medal contests will be played on May 15.
The winning teams in the Antalya Open will share the $11,000 first-place prize.
The FIVB World Tour stop is the second time the world’s best beach volleyball has returned to the BeachPark courts in an eight-month period, as the inaugural Antalya Open was held Oct. 20-25, 2015, with teams from the Czech Republic and Italy capturing the women’s and men’s gold medals, respectively.
The top four finishers from the 2015 Antalya Open are in the field this week, including Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic, Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy, Emily Day/Jen Kessy of the United States and Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina.
Menegatti and Orsi Toth are currently the No. 1 team on the women’s 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour ranking list.
With the top 15 teams, excluding Brazilians, from the FIVB World Tour and a maximum of two pairs per country qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics, the winning teams from each of the five international confederations will earn a spot in the Copacabana quadrennial.
Brazil is guaranteed two of the 24 berths per gender in the Olympics due to winning the world championships last July in The Hague along with being the host country. The second and third place finishers from each confederation’s Continental Cup competition qualify for the Continental Cup Finals July 6-10 in Sochi, where the last two spots will be determined for Rio.
A new men’s champion will be crowned on May 15, as 2015 bronze medal duo Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza of Latvia are the only men’s podium-placing pair from last October’s event in the field.
In the 2015 gold medal match, Alex Ranghieri/Adrian Carambula of Italy defeated Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) in the 39-minute finale. Plavins and Regza scored a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) bronze medal win in 33 minutes over the Grimalt cousins (Esteban and Marco) of Chile.
Led by Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Goğtepe, host Turkey will have four women’s and four men’s tandems in the Antalya Open. Giginoglu and Goğtepe, who placed ninth in the inaugural event, are the 12th-ranked men’s team on the FIVB World Tour.
The other Turkish men’s teams in the Antalya Open main draw are Devrim Alibaba/Kemal Şah and Hasan Mermer/Sefa Urlu. The host country’s qualifying men’s team will be Ali Nurettin/Safak Sezer.
Representing Turkey in the women’s “money rounds” will be Merve Aktas/Esra Koksalan, Atasoy Burcu/Selin Yurtsever and Resmiye Cakmak/Yaren Sencel.
Playing in the women’s qualifier will be Ebru Karayılan/Aleyna Vence.
Vanuatu seeks further success
Unlike many other countries, Vanuatu does not have a funded national beach volleyball program, meaning players are often left to attempt to raise their own funds, Mehmet Atar, Vanuatu’s honorary consult, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The Pata-Matauatu team has enjoyed great success, moving from 250th to 21st in the world since 2008.
The duo and their coach, Jason Lochhead, will travel to all FIVB World Tour events schedule until June in Asia, Europe, South America and the United States with the goal of entering the top 15 to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games.
The Antalya Open is running between May 10 and 15.