Lausanne, Switzerland, September 7, 2016 – The twenty-four teams set to compete at the SWATCH Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto, Canada in just one week have learned their fate after the pools and schedule were officially unveiled on Wednesday.
Twelve teams per gender will compete for one of the sport’s biggest prizes just a month after competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The top teams from each pool earn a bye to the quarterfinals while the second and third place teams will face off for a place in the final eight.
Brazilians lead charge on men’s side
Men’s Olympic champions and defending World Tour Finals winners Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt lead the pack in the men’s event in Pool A
alongside Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros and Italy’s Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula.
Latvian pair Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins – fresh from winning the Jurmala Masters on home sand last weekend – will join Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands and Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland in Pool B
USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena won the AVP Championships in Chicago on Sunday, and will be hoping to carry that form north to Toronto. However, the home crowd are likely to get loud for Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter. The duo will take to the sand as one of two Canadian men's teams, with Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak completing Pool C
The other home duo is Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk who line up in Pool D
. They will be joined by John Hyden and Tri Bourne of the United States as well as Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and big-serving Evandro Goncalves.
Fresh from winning gold on Copacabana, Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst will be looking to tie-up their season with victory in Toronto. Standing in their way in Pool B
will be Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr as well as Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug, with both duos making their Finals debut.
Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from their bronze medal win at Rio with gold at the Long Beach Grand Slam and will hope to carry that momentum into the World Tour Finals. They have been placed in Pool A
alongside Swiss tandem Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Depré as well as Aussie side Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy.
Larissa França and Talita Antunes come into the World Tour Finals looking to defend the title they won in Fort Lauderdale last year. The Brazilians were narrowly beaten by Walsh Jennings and Ross to bronze at the Olympics but will be full of fire as they look to end their year on a high. But they will have to tame the home duo of Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas, the latter a true home-grown hero having been raised in Toronto. Spain’s Liliane Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan complete Pool C
Canada will also have another team to support in Pool D
, although their identity remains a mystery. Originally expected to be Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley, the pair split
following the Rio 2016 Olympics, with Pavan joining forces with Melissa Humana-Paredes and Bansley teaming with Brandie Wilkerson. The two teams will meet in an afternoon elimination match on September 13 with the winner earning a place in the Main Draw. Awaiting them will be recently crowned Italian champions Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini as well as Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude.
The SWATCH Finals will be the first FIVB World Tour event in Canada since the 2011 Québec Open when Americans Todd Rogers/Phil Dalhausser and Brazilians Maria Antonelli/Talita captured the gold medals. Since 1998, the FIVB has staged eight World Tour and two junior World Championships in Canada, including double gender stops in Toronto during the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons at Ashbridges Bay Park.