A month and a half of uncertainties, changes, controversies, protests and now the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour seems to be taking shape and everything is ready for the start of the season, despite the problems related to the pandemic.
THE CALENDAR AND REGULATORY NEWS. The tournaments called “Elite 16” could change their name shortly because, in addition to the first 12 pairs of the ranking (actually there are 11 plus a wild card) , another sixteen pairs will be registered, contrary to what was communicated by the FIVB in the first place. (15 plus a wild card) to the qualifiers which will promote another 4 pairs to the main draw. Excellent news for the men’s blue beach volleyball which will appear at least initially with three couples instead of just one (to Rossi / Carambula, already in the main draw will be added Ranghieri / Lupo and Nicolai / Cottafava). For now, there are no Italian couples in the top 28 in the women’s field. At the moment the Elite 16 on the calendar are Rosarito (Mexico) from 23 to 27 March, Ostava (Czech Republic) 25-29 May, to be confirmed, Jurmala (Latvia) 1-5 June, Gstaad (Switzerland) 6-10 July, Hamburg (Germany) August 10-14, Paris (France) September 28-October 2, Cape Town (South Africa) November 2-6, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) November 2-6, to be confirmed, Sydney (Australia) November 23-27 . To these is added the World Championship scheduled in Italy (finals in Rome) from 10 to 19 June.
We also start in Mexico with the Challenge circuit (16 pairs in main draw plus 32 in qualifiers that will promote 8 pairs in the main draw). The first appointment is scheduled in Tlaxcala in Mexico from 16 to 20 March and there will be a lot of Italy at the start. The other stages: Itapema (Brazil) April 14-17, Doha (Qatar) May 5-8, Turkey (location to be defined) May 19-22, Portugal (location to be defined) July 14-17 to be confirmed, Morocco (location to be to be defined) 21-24 July to be confirmed, Red Sea Egypt (location to be defined) 5-8 October, Maldives 13-16 October, Asia (location to be defined) 20-23 October to be confirmed, Asia (location to be defined) 27-30 October to be confirmed, Australia (venue to be defined) 17-20 October.
The calendar of Futures tournaments is still incomplete (12 in the main draw plus 16 in qualifying). The first tournament (for now with very few members for obvious logistical reasons) is scheduled in Coolangatta (Australia) from March 30 to April 3. Other tournaments: Songkhla (Thailand) April 8-11, Madrid (Spain) men 12-15 May, Madrid (Spain) women May 19-22, Rhodes (Greece) men 19-22 May, Ios (Greece) June 29- 2 July, Ljubljana (Slovenia) 28-31 July, Baden (Austria) 25-28 August, Subic Bay (Philippines) 8-11 December. Others should be added to these events, including a couple in Italy: in Cervia and probably in Puglia.
BLUE AND ENTRANCE LISTS. In recent days, the entry lists of the first two tournaments of the season, both scheduled in Mexico, have been released. In the Tlaxcala Challenge (16-20 March) in the men’s field Lupo / Ranghieri are included in the main draw, while Nicolai / Cottafava and Windisch / Dal Corso will start from the qualifications. In the women’s field there are no blue pairs in the main draw and there is the novelty of the couple composed of Viktoria and Reka Orsi Toth (an expected return that of Viktoria, who returns to play after the Olympic tournament) which is added to Menegatti / Gottardi in qualifying. In the Elite 16 men’s tournament in Rosarito (23-27 March) Carambula / Rossi are included in the main draw, while Lupo / Ranghieri and Nicolai / Cottafava will start from stellar level qualifiers. There are no Italian couples registered.
NEW IN EUROPE. The first novelty of the 2022 season has been known for some time and will be the inclusion of the European Championship in the program of the European Championships in Monaco. The tournament will be held on the Königsplatz in Munich from 15 to 21 August with the usual double draw for men and women of 64 pairs.
The second news announced yesterday by the CEV concerns a new competition format, the Nations Cup to be held from 2 to 7 August at the Heumarkt in Vienna (which hosted last year’s European Championship). It is a European team championship with eight formations per gender at the start, divided into two groups: each match the two worst ranked pairs face off and then the two best classified pairs. In the event of a tie, a golden set is played with the two players chosen from among the four of each team. The first classified of each group go to the semifinals, the second and third places clash for the other two places in the semifinal. The final four will take place on 6 and 7 August.