Youth beach volleyball begins with competitiveness in Portugal
Despite being the season opener for the majority of the athletes, great potential and quality was shown by the youth prospects with fair play standing throughout the weekend.
The U16 Girls had the most registrations, with athletes from across the country attending the event. The superiority of Ana Matos and Margarida Vasques was confirmed at the final, edging Beatriz Lacerda and Cristiana Reis by 2-0 (21-15, 21-18). Ana Batista and Mariana Costa achieved the 3rd place after beating Beatriz Barroso and Sofia Castro.
The two top teams from the U16 Boys meet again in an emotive final. Despite the first set being won by Cardoso and Alves (21-9) the second was taken by Jardim and Almeida (21-12), who also won the tie-break (16-14). Pedro Morais and Miguel Ferreira stood 3rd in the ranking.
The U18 event allowed the athletes to compete in their first classic format tournament (double elimination). Participated by 24 teams, the girls’ event revealed new talents for beach volleyball. The 2012 runner-up team, Ana Montenegro and Francisca Silva, won the stage by reaching the semifinal from the losers’ table by defeating Ana Afonso and Gabriela Coelho – one of the most promising team of the competition. Inês Soares and Maria Ferreira reached the 3rd place.
In the boys’ event, the 2012 champions Francisco Pombeiro and José Jardim continued their path of victories, despite the good resistance of their opponents, like Neto/Santos who was playing at home, while Bernardo Silva and Francisco Brito came in 3rd. The quality presented by this age group encourages the work being done at the Centers for High Performance.
Several U20 teams that integrate the pre-selected U19 World Championship list made their presence and competed at the highest level at Espinho. Ana Gomes and Rita Neto beat Maria Tinoco and Margarida Reis, who debuted in the championship, in one of the closest final of the event 2-1 (22-20, 16-21, 15-8). Daniela Silva and Sara Castro won the 3rd place match.
The boys also put up a show, as some healthy rivalries from previous years were head-to-head at the semifinals, both decided in three sets. Nuno Santiago and Francisco Ferreira were crowned winners by edging João Oliveira and Jorge Graça 2-0 (21-16, 21-15). Diogo Maia and Artur Resende achieved the 3rd place.
Top prospects for the Senior National Circuit will certainly emerge soon from this age group.