06.06.2019 - Rome, Italy
It’s the eighth world championships, the sixth in Europe, and it’s in the Italian capital, Rome. Those Europeans sure love to host a beach volleyball tournament. The usual format took place and, as ever, one million US Dollars was in the prize kitty to be shared among the 96 teams. Just like at this year’s World Championships, the 2011 edition took place inside a tennis arena with the magnificent open-air 10,500-seater Stadio Del Tennis, playing host. It looked stunning and provided a beautiful backdrop to the tournament.
Guess who’s back, back again
Brazil, that’s who. Having not won a men’s gold medal since 2005 and a women’s as far back as 2001, the South American powerhouse climbed back on top of the podium to take both the men’s and women’s golds in Rome.
It was a Brazil one-two in the men’s tournament as Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego took the top honors, beating compatriots Marcio Arujo and Ricardo Santos in the final. Emanuel and Ricardo had won the title eight years before in Rio, this time they were on opposite sides of the net. For Alison it was his first title, two years after he and Harley had lost in the final in Stavanger to Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann. Alison got revenge for that heartache by beating the Germans in the semifinal, but Julius and Jonas recovered to win bronze in Rome.
On the women’s side, the 10-year wait for Brazilian gold was ended by Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca in a final fit for its superb surroundings against Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings – the pair back after missing the 2009 event. The South Americans had finished second, third and second in their previous three World Championships, but finally climbed to the very top of the podium in a breathless three-set finale, triumphing 21-17, 13-31, 16-14.
Bronze went the way of China, as Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, the number eight seeds, beat Czech duo Lenka Hajeckova and Hana Klapalova in straight sets.
Just missing out on a medal in the women’s fight for third, Hajeckova and Klapalova were the number 22 seeds in the tournament and were easily the best finishing outsiders. What’s even more remarkable was their path to the final four. They lost their first two pool play matches but still managed squeak through to the elimination rounds. Two wins set-up a place in the semifinals, where Juliana and Larissa proved too strong – as were Chen and Xi in the bronze medal match.
Plenty of teams outran their seeding, including two German teams. Julia Sude and Jana Kohler (seeded 24) finished fifth (losing to Hajeckova/Klapalova in the quarters), while Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler (seeded 40) posted a ninth place finish.
On the men’s side, Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins, seeded 15, reached the final four, losing in the bronze medal match to Brink/Reckermann. It really was a decent championships for Germany, as Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik (seeded 20) and Sebastien Dollinger and Stefan Windscheif (seeded 36) both finished ninth.
Worth a watch
The women’s final was BRILLIANT. Juliana and Larissa against Kerri and Misty. Brazil v USA. Full stadium. Three setter. Fans loving it. Sadly the full match isn’t online anywhere, but there’s a more than adequate eight-and-a-half minutes of the best bits on YouTube and you can – and should – watch it.
If you do have a free hour, then settle down and watch the full men’s final on YouTube and get the popcorn out to relive Alison and Emanuel’s destruction of Marico and Ricardo. Emanuel and Ricardo had previously won the 2003 event – now they’re head-to-head against one another in the final. WATCH IT!
How did the Italians do?
Of the seven teams that competed for Italy (four women’s, three men’s) on home sand, the best finish was ninth. The top performing women were Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari, who won all three pool games before falling to Chen and Xi at the second elimination stage.
The best performing men were Matteo Martino and a certain Paolo Nicolai, the latter making his second appearance at the World Championships. The pair beat Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil in the elimination round but then lost to Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera.
Daniele Lupo made his championship debut alongside Andreas Tomatis but, despite winning their opening pool play match, they lost the next two and were eliminated.
A special World Championships because…
Packed crowds inside an iconic arena and a women’s final to remember? That will do us thank you very much.
Impress your friends by saying:
“They’ll be 36 players at this year’s world champs in Hamburg that also played in the Rome championships in 2011 – 19 women and 17 men.”
No need to thank us.
Where are they now?
Jennifer Kessy won the 2009 event with April Ross and in Rome the pair fought their way to the quarters before they lost to, yes you guessed it, Kerri and Misty in three sets. Jennifer would go on and feature in one more championships, finishing 17th in The Hague in 2015 with Emily Day. After putting down the Mikasa, Jennifer focused on coaching and at the turn of 2018 became the coach of April and Alix Klineman, a team who are now gearing up for their first championships together in Hamburg.
The championships in three words?
Brazil are back!
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