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Strong presence expected at inaugural WEVZA U21 Beach Championship

The official poster of this historical first edition of the zonal competition

Macedo de Cavaleiros, Portugal, August 22, 2014 - The first WEVZA U21 Beach Volleyball Championship to be hosted by the Portuguese Volleyball Federation has already gathered some of the ingredients that will allow all of those who will travel this weekend, August 23 and 24, to Praia da Ribeira, at Albufeira do Azibo in Macedo de Cavaleiros, to view some excellent matches with some of the youngest promises of European beach volleyball.

To the natural beauty of the venue where the stadium is staged, a landscape already considered one of Portugal’s seven wonders, a sport that has been increasingly gaining more fans and that has a reference at national level in Macedo de Cavaleiros will be added.

Diogo Maia / Tomas Silva and Bernardo Leite / Jose Jardim in the men’s competition, and Margarida Reis / Maria Tinoco and Vanessa Paquete / Daniela Silva in the women’s event, are the Portuguese teams that will fight for worthy results in the sport.  The technical staff will be composed by Francisco Fidalgo and Ricardo Rocha, Pedro Carvalho and Hugo Madruga.

Diogo Maia, 18 years old, who already participated in several international, along with 19-year-old Tomas Silva achieved one of the most relevant results in youth beach volleyball - the 9th place in the FIVB U19 World Championship held in Porto in 2013.  Bernardo Leite, 17 years old, placed 25th in this year U19 World Championship, teams up with Jose Jardim, 18 years old, also placed 25th in the U19 World Championship, a result he added to the U20 national championship title.

Although their international experience has been growing in recent years, the Portuguese players will have to play against even more experienced opponents.

The Netherlands will be represented by a team, favourite for a podium place.  Despite his 17 years of age Jasper Bouter participated in three World Championships this year and finished 4th at the U19 in Porto, 17th at the U21 in Larnaca and 41st at the U23 in Myslowice.  Bouter will have 19-year-old Jannes Van Der Ham as a partner.

Spain brings two experienced teams.  Oscar Prades, 19 years old, and Adrian Valles, 18 years old, have been playing as a team since 2012, having achieved important results in international competitions: 9th in the 2014 U21 World Championship and in the 2013 CEV U20 Beach Volleyball European Championship, and 13th in the 2012 CEV U18 Beach Volleyball European Championship.  Javier Huerta, 17 years old, and Hugo Rojas, 18 years old, this year finished 9th in the U19 World Championship and in the CEV Youth Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final, and last year 17th at the U18 European Championship.

In the women’s competition, Margarida Reis, 19 years old, and Maria Tinoco, 18, placed 17th in the 2013 U19 World Championship, are giving continuity to a partnership that allowed them to achieve the U20 national championship title last year.

Vanessa Paquete, 19, who finished 17th in the 2013 U19 World Championship and won the gold medal at the 2010 CPLP Games in Mozambique, teams up with Daniela Silva, a year younger and 33rd from the U19 World Championship.

The strongest opposition to the Portuguese ambitions may come from the neighbouring Spain.  Aida Etxebarria, 19 years old, and Nerea Izagirre, also 19, have been playing together since 2013.  They placed 25th in the 2013 U20 European Championship and achieved good results in national events. Maria Palet, 19, who finished 9th in the 2012 U18 European Championship, plays with Carla Alocen, 18, who ended 25th in the U18 European Championship.

The team from the Netherlands, composed of Loladina Zwaanswijk, 16 years old, and Marky Bak, 19, has been achieving relevant results in their national championships.

Francisco Fidalgo, national coach and coordinator of the Beach Volleyball High Performance Training Centers of the Portuguese national federation, is aware of the opportunity that the WEVZA tournament presents to his young players, as well as the difficulties that they will face by playing athletes in constant evolution.

“Portugal, similarly to Spain and the Netherlands, mainly on the men’s side, will use this tournament to prepare for future events, such as the CEV U20 European Championship, and simultaneously to bring continuity to the work developed with the youngsters.  One of the ideas behind the founding of WEVZA was the creation of more opportunities for the countries to be able to develop the younger players. Even if in this first edition only three countries are represented, the path for the future will be the players’ massive participation, since the tournament represents an excellent opportunity for them to compete with opponents of similar ages and already at a significant level.  Even if it is always premature to advance goals in terms of results, it is obvious that we would like to obtain good results, since they are always important, even more since we play at home.  Macedo de Cavaleiros is an amazing setting, unusual for this kind of international competitions, but it has welcomed the finals of the national championships for the 5th consecutive time, as well as the latest finals of the Subs championships.  It will be interesting to show, internationally, that we are able to integrate the sport in a scenario of extreme natural beauty, such as Albufeira do Azibo.”

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