Carol Solberg/Maria Antonelli – Brazil (10)
Team: 5th (2017)
Carol: 5th (2007), 9th (2009), 9th (2011), 17th (2013), 5th (2017)
Maria: 3rd (2009), 5th (2011), 17th (2013), 3rd (2015), 5th (2017)
Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman – USA (15)
Laura Ludwig/Maggie Kozuch – Germany (30)
Ludwig: 17th (2005), 17th (2007), 9th (2009), 9th (2011), 5th (2013), 17th (2015) 1st (2017)
Kozuch: 17th (2017)
Francisca Ikhiede/Tochukwu Nnoruga – Nigeria (45)
On paper one of the toughest groups. Put it this way. One pretty decent team is going to end up finishing third and potentially facing a lucky-loser play-off. Top seeds in this group at Brazil’s Carol and Maria Antonelli, who are experiencing a renaissance since joining forces. The US’s Larsen/Stockman arrive fresh from winning an AVP tournament back home, but the pool’s obvious draw is reigning world champion Laura Ludwig and teammate Maggie Kozuch. So far Laura’s return to the sand since given birth to baby Teo hasn’t hit the heights of her previous partnership with Kira Walkenhorst – but, with the fans behind them, who knows what they can achieve here. Ikehiede and Nnoruga make history by becoming the first Nigerian team to play in a World Championships and you can be sure they will embrace every single minute on court against their three opponents.
First day of the tournament. Center Court. The reigning champion takes to the sand in Hamburg for the first time in two years. Can Laura and Maggie get off to a winning start or will in-form Americans Larsen/Stockman spoil the opening night party? Friday, June 28, at 6pm. Red Bull Beach Arena.
Laura Ludwig is aiming to become the first beach volleyball player ever to retain a World Championship title with a different partner.
Sara Hughes/Summer Ross – USA (11)
Hughes: 9th (2017)
Summer: 17th (2015), 5th (2017)
Svetlana Kholomina/Nadezda Makroguzova – Russia (18)
Makroguzova: 33rd (2017)
Meimei Lin/Jinjin Zeng – China (36)
Ana Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra – Argentina (37)
Gallay: 37th (2015), 17th (2017)
Americans Sara and Summer are favorites to top this pool but it will be an intriguing battle to see what happens in a potentially open group. The US team will be looking to build on their success last season but their biggest danger come in the shape of another young duo, Russians Makroguzova and Kholomina, who have twice won Under-21 silver medals together. Can they take it a step further on the senior stage? Chinese youngsters Meimei and Jinjin have played five times on the World Tour together and are still learning their trade but Argentina’s experienced Ana Gallay – at 33 the oldest of the eight women in Pool K – could inspire teammate Fernanda Pererya in what is their first major tournament together.
The final round of pool play games pits the Americans against the Russians out on side court 2. The two teams met as recently as the tournament in Warsaw earlier this month with Svetlana and Nadezda coming out on top in three. What will the outcome be this time in a potential pool decider? Tuesday, July 2, at 2pm CET. Side court 2.
This is the youngest pool in the tournament with the average age of the eight players just 24 years old. China’s Jinjin Zeng, at 18, is the youngest player in Hamburg.
Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves – Brazil (12)
Team: 17th (2017)
Barbara: 3rd (2013), 1st (2015), 17th (2017)
Fernanda: 2nd (2015), 17th (2017)
Taru Lahti/Anniina Parkkinen – Finland (17)
Lahti: 9th (2017)
Natalia Dubovcova/Andrea Strbova – Slovakia (26)
Dubovcova: 9th (2013), 17th (2015)
Zaira Orellana/Martha Revuelta – Mexico (38)
Barbara, the 2015 champion, and partner Fernanda are arguably strong favorites to top Pool L but it makes the race to join them in the elimination phases an interesting one. The Brazilians last medaled in Vienna last summer so they will be keen to return to the podium. They certainly have the talent to do so. Taru and Anniina of Finland could the dark horses of the tournament after a string of consistent finishes this season, including bronze in The Hague and fifth in Ostrava. The Slovakians have also been consistent so far in 2019 while Zaira and Martha will aim to use their NORCECA experience to good use. The Mexicans finished fifth in their World Tour appearance in October so perhaps they can spring a surprise in Hamburg.
Will there be an upset at this year’s championships? Who knows. But perhaps, given their form Brazil’s Barbara/Fernanda will be keen to get their tournament off to a good start against a Mexican team who have already shown they can mix it with the best when finishing fifth in Chetumal last year. This might not be as easy as it looks for the South Americans. Friday June 28, 11am CET. Side court 2.
When Barbara won gold in The Hague in 2015 with Agatha, she beat her current partner Fernanda in the process.