Ukraine expect to leave their mark as Continental Cup stops in Baku
Azerbaijan will be making their debut in the event after missing out on the inaugural edition of the Continental Cup, leading to the 2012 Olympics in London.
This is also the first international beach volleyball tournament to take place in Azerbaijan, and will serve as a test run ahead of the Baku Masters in September and the European Games, which will be organised in Baku next year.
Azerbaijan will take on the likes of Israel, Turkey, and Ukraine. The winners as well as the runners-up of the men’s and women’s competition will progress straight to the 3rd round scheduled next year, whereas the countries ranked third and fourth at the end of the tournament will re-start their campaigns to qualify for a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the 2nd round coming up later this summer.
The courts are being prepared very carefully and the weather is just excellent in Baku, with high temperatures and no wind. Local fans hope that this trend will continue throughout the weekend and will accompany the efforts of their heroes on the sand. Turkey will count on two experienced players, Selcuk Sekerci and Murat Giginoglu, who will play in Baku alongside Ersin Durgut and Engin Özbek respectively.
Ukraine, on the other hand, will rely on Sergiy Popov, a winner of numerous medals in various age-group World and European Championships with former partner Valeriy Samoday. Ukraine also has some excellent players in the women’s competition, including Dar’ya Udovenko and Elizaveta Sulima (pictured), who last year won bronze at the CEV U18 European Championship in Molodechno, Belarus.