As improbable as it may sound, the reigning beach volleyball World champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen had just won their second trophy together this past weekend on the Croatian shores of Porec. The first Major tournament in history, part of the newly promoted Swatch Major Series by FIVB, turned out to be the first thoroughly successful World Tour event for the two Dutchmen who had previously only captured the 2013 World Championship in Stare Jablonki.
From the beginning of 2011, when the partnership of Brouwer and Meeuwsen began, the two young players have appeared in medal games on several occasions, but had been looking for their breakthrough on international stage until 2013. Even later on, Brouwer-Meeuwsen lost three Tour finals – in 2013 at the Xiamen Grand Slam, and this season at the Fuzhou Open and the Lucerne Open. The underdogs Böckermann-Flüggen made the sensation in China by beating the Dutchmen at the 2015 season opener, whereas Meeuwsen’s knee problems prevented them from competing in the final against Ranghieri-Caminati in Lucerne.
This time, however, it all went smoothly for the team from the Netherlands. They finished second behind countrymen Nummerdor-Varenhorst in the preliminary Pool F, but were on a roll in the elimination round. Brouwer-Meeuwsen knocked out Böckermann-Flüggen and Ranghieri-Carambula (more about this new team in the next paragraphs) in the Round 2 and the semifinals respectively and thus got their revenge for the defeats in the previous two gold medal matches. Canada’s Binstock-Schachter were also powerless against the Dutchmen in the final on Sunday and lost in straight sets (15-21, 13-21). The win in Croatia plus the third final appearance takes Brouwer-Meeuwsen to the top of the current 2015 World Tour ranking.
It was nevertheless an amazing weekend for Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, who built on their impressive results from 2014. A fourth-place finish at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Slam was followed by a win at the Parana Open in Argentina and a silver medal at the Doha Open. The new set of silver medals they obtained in Porec makes them the hottest Canadian competitors on the World Tour and they will surely be compared to their legendary compatriots Child-Heese.
One of the Tour’s toughest servers, the Italian blocker Alex Ranghieri, won another pair of medals after he and Marco Caminati grabbed the gold at the Lucerne Open in the middle of May. This time with a new partner, Adrian Carambula, Ranghieri started from the qualification rounds and once more made it all the way to the semifinals. Enroute to grabbing the bronze medals the Italians left the court victorious against Ricardo-Emanuel in the group phase, Semenov-Krasilnikov at the Round 2, Evandro-Pedro in the quarterfinals and Nummerdor-Varenhorst in the Major’s penultimate match, proving this way their value as a team. The exhausting qualification rounds seem to only motivate the newly created Italian team to achieve further results. Apart from the bronze medal, Adrian Carambula won the neutral fans’ attention with his spectacular actions (check out the first video below). He became famous for his old-school sky serves, which still create problems to the opponents’ reception, and his unconventional sets, winning also points with some clever tips.
Little was needed to Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst to crown their return to the World Tour with a pair of medals. Nummerdor got injured at the season opener in Fuzhou, so the team missed the events in Lucerne and Moscow. The Dutchmen had been unbeated in Porec, the most visited tourist destination in Croatia, until Sunday. In the semifinal they were defeated by Binstock-Schachter (23-21, 18-21, 13-15), who avenged the loss at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Slam semifinal, only to remain empty-handed after another tie-break misfortune against Ranghieri-Carambula (18-21, 21-18, 10-15). Thus, they missed the medal ceremony by a whisker and the chance to make the weekend predominantly Dutch.
We end this week’s beach volleyball report with the unpleasant news regarding Phil Dalhausser’s condition. He tore his left oblique during a match at the Moscow Grand Slam last week. The blocker completed the match with Sean Rosenthal, but probably made the injury worse by playing further.
“Phil is out and will not return until mid-July for the event in Japan (the Yokohama Grand Slam),” said his teammate Sean Rosenthal in an interview on Friday at the Porec Major. “It is clear, he can’t play in the World Championship.”
The Tour resumes this week with the second Major event of the year at the iconic Norwegian setting of Stavanger.