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Review 2013 – Ground-breaking year for World Tour and Opens

Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima celebrate their success
 Lausanne, Switzerland, December 22, 2013 – As part of our end-of-year review series, looks back at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and Open tournaments.

While the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships was the focus of many people’s attention going into 2013, there was a lot more to see on the FIVB World Tour: a further 10 Grand Slams over four FIVB confederations and new venues and conditions to adapt to in Corrientes (Argentina), Long Beach (USA) and Xiamen (China). 

Supplementing the Grand Slams and contributing points to the World Rankings were four Open tournaments. The Fuzhou Open in China marked the start of the FIVB Beach Volleyball season and after further Opens in Anapa (Russia) and Phuket (Thailand), the 2013 season concluded with the Durban Open on the shores of South Africa’s Indian Ocean.

Looking over the field it was hard to make any concrete predictions after the vast majority of female and male teams were shaken up and mixed about. In the end it was some familiar faces in new-look teams that led the way in 2013. Despite being a new pairing, Brazilians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima were the dominant female pair throughout the season. 

Even when they were not at their best they still managed to find a way onto the podium and were fitting winners for the top spot in the season rankings. At the start of the season Talita and Lima did not hang around and won the first of their five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medals at the opening Grand Slam of the year in Shanghai with a win over Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger.

They followed their win in Shanghai with gold medals at the Grand Slams in The Hague, Rome, Long Beach and Berlin and then a silver medal in Xiamen. With five golds in the first eight Grand Slams of the season, they were the runaway leaders. 

Brazil’s Salgado sisters, Maria-Clara and Carolina, enjoyed their best year after Carolina returned to the beach following the birth of her first child and finished second in the rankings. They began the season well with two bronze medal places in Shanghai and Corrientes and then grabbed silver in The Hague. Another silver medal followed in Long Beach, before eventually they won their first Grand Slam gold medal in Moscow.

Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany finished a close third behind the Salgado sisters in the final rankings. 

Also making a dramatic return was triple US Olympic gold medallist Kerri Walsh, albeit without her long-time partner Misty May-Treanor. She first teamed up with April Ross in Gstaad with the long-term goal of winning a fourth Olympic gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. They reached the knockout stages in the Swiss Alps and then reunited to win the Sao Paolo and Xiamen Grand Slams and send an early warning of what the rest of the teams will face in 2014. 

The men’s Tour developed into a straight shoot-out between Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs, and Brazil’s Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt, with both sides winning five medals: two gold, two silver and one bronze. However, the one time they met in a final – in The Hague – it was the Brazilians who came out on top. 

It all came down to the final tournament of the year at the Durban Open and when the Latvians reached the quarterfinals it was enough to keep them at the top of the season rankings with the Brazilians in second place. Fittingly they went onto to win gold in South Africa, while Pedro and Bruno joined them on the podium for bronze. 

Eventual World Championship winners, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands, went into the season with their main goal being to reach at least the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam so as to move up into a higher bracket of Dutch Olympic Committee funding. Instead the duo left Poland with gold medals around their necks and with their names firmly etched in as the poster boys for the 2015 World Championships in the Netherlands. 

USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal enjoyed a mixed start to their time as a team, though they can at least look back on two gold-medal finishes in Rome and Long Beach. Rosenthal’s former partner, Jacob Gibb, teamed up with the flamboyant Casey Patterson to win gold at the Shanghai Grand Slam, silver in Corrientes and a bronze medal in Gstaad.

Elsewhere Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo – who finished third in the overall rankings – and Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira flew the flag for Europe by winning silvers and bronze. Nicolai and Lupo won silver in Fuzhou and bronze in Corrientes, Long Beach and Xiamen, while Herrera and Gavira won silver in Long Beach and bronze in Berlin and were also crowned European champions.

Men’s rankings

1 Smedins, J.-Samoilovs Latvia 7,490 pts.

2 Pedro-Bruno Brazil 7,140

3 Nicolai-Lupo Italy 5,940

4 Brouwer-Meeuwsen Netherlands 5,930

5 Ricardo-Álvaro Filho Brazil 5,730

Women’s rankings

1 Lima-Talita Brazil 7,210

2 Maria Clara-Carol Brazil 6,500

3 Semmler-Holtwick Germany 6,474

4 Ludwig-Walkenhorst Germany 6,092

5 Agatha-Antonelli Brazil 6,090


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