China’s Xue returns from shoulder surgery
• Maceio Open website
• Qualification results - Men
• Qualification results - Women
• Main draw results - Men
• Main draw results - Women
One of the youngest players to win a FIVB World Tour event, Xue suffered a dislocated right shoulder in an April 23 stop at the Fuzhou Open that eventually ended her 2015 campaign and led to a June surgery in southern California by orthopedic specialist Dr. William Schobert.
Chen Xue (left) and Zhang Xi were gold medallists at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland in 2013
Dr. Schobert also performed the surgery five months later on American Olympic and world champion Kerri Walsh Jennings, who also dislocated her right shoulder twice during the 2015 campaign at FIVB World Tour events in Moscow and Gstaad, Switzerland.
Like Walsh Jennings, Xue suffered two shoulder dislocations that forced the surgery. Xue's first dislocation in 2014 happened during a March training session in southern California at Hermosa Beach as the Chinese were practising with players from Spain.
“I remained in southern California for two months after the June surgery to rehab my shoulder,” said Xue, who celebrated her 27th birthday last Thursday. “I am not at 100 per cent right now, but I am getting there. I am anxious to see how everything goes this week as this is my first competition since the injury.”
Xue is playing with 19-year old Xinyi Xia as the pair entered the 2015 season with high hopes after ending their first full-season together in 2014 with gold medal finishes in Thailand (Phukett) and South Africa (Durban). The Maceió Open will be the pair’s 13th FIVB World Tour event together.
Xue and Xia hold the distinction of being the youngest players ever to win FIVB World Tour events for men or women. Xue was 17 years, three months and 10 days when she captured the 2006 Shanghai Open on May 28 with her 2013 World Championship partner Xi Zhang.
Xia, who is 19, was 16 years, nine months, 20 days when she and Xue captured the 2013 Phuket Open on November 13. A month later on December 14, Xia topped the podium at the Durbin Open a month before her 17th birthday.
The Maceió Open will be the first international beach volleyball event in the Brazilian coastal state of Alagoas on the Atlantic Ocean since April 1996 when the city of more than 1-million inhabitants hosted a women’s stop. The third women’s event on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar begins with a men’s and –women’s qualification tournament to determine the final eight entries in both gender’s Main Draws.
Pool play will be staged Wednesday and Thursday to set the elimination bracket with the medal matches being played February 28. The winning teams will share the $11,000 first-place prizes while netting 500 points that will count towards qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The women’s 2015-2016 international calendar started last October with stops in Mexico and Turkey. Following the Maceió Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a week off before resuming competition March 8-13 on famed Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the first grand slam event on the 2015-2016 international beach volleyball calendar with an $800,000 purse.
The FIVB World Tour returns to the Brazilian coast for the $150,000 Vitória Open March 15-20. After events in Qatar (Doha) and China (Xiamen and Fuzhou), the international beach volleyball circuit returns to Brazil for the $150,000 Fortaleza Open (April 26-May 1).
The fifth and final stop in Brazil on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar will be the Rio 2016 Olympic Games August 5-21 on Copacabana Beach as the Maceió, Vitória and Fortaleza “Open” events along with the Rio Grand Slam stop are part of the important qualifying process for the first-ever Summer Games in South America.
The “Road to Rio” continues through mid-June as FIVB World Tour events count towards the Olympic Ranking in order to determine 15 of 24 spots for each gender that will take part in the Rio 2016 Summer Games. Host Brazil has already secured two spots each in the men’s and women’s competition. Three of the four teams named to the South American country’s Olympic team will be competing the Maceió Open.
Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas and Talita Antunes/Larissa França, the mainstays of the Brazilian women’s Olympic team, headline the host country’s women’s entries in Maceió as the two teams dominated the 2015 FIVB World Tour by combining to win 10 of 16 events on the schedule.
Agatha and Barbara secured their spot in Rio by winning three FIVB World Tour stops last season highlighted by a gold medal finish at the 2015 World Championships in The Netherlands. The pair finished atop the 2015 FIVB World Tour rankings as the pair claimed seven total medals (three silver and one bronze) last season.
Other Brazilian pairs in the women’s Maceió Open Main Draw are Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima and Josemari Alves/Vanilda Leão. Competing in Tuesday’s qualifier for Brazil will be Maria Antonelli/Liliane Maestrini, Eduarda Lisboa/Elize Maia, Rachel Nunes/Angela Lavalle and Thatiana Soares/Renata Ribeiro. https://youtu.be/lNU5kxITFPo