OLYMPIC and world champions and top-ranked athletes take center stage in the Philippine leg of the prestigious Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour (BPT) Challenge that starts with the qualifiers on Thursday on five world-class sand courts in Nuvali in Santa Rosa City.
Reigning champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway banner the cast in the loaded men’s division of the four-day competition that drew representatives from over 30 countries.
Mol and Sorum, gold medalists at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and FIVB 2022 Beach Volleyball World Championships won the inaugural BPT Challenge season last year in Doha, Qatar.
That should be enough for the Norwegians to loom as the heavy title favorites in men’s play of the competitions hosted by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation led by Ramon “Tats” Suzara.
Tickets are available at vw. ticketmax.ph pegged at P100 for morning sessions and P200 for afternoon sessions. Tickets will also be available onsite starting Thursday.
The Mol-Sorum tandem will face a bevy of challengers led by top-ranked players from Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United States, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Poland, and the Netherlands—which are all in the top 10 of the latest world beach volleyball rankings.
Mol and Sorum are already seeded in the 16-team main draw that also includes home bets Ran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton with eight more teams coming from the qualifications featuring 32 hopefuls.
James Buytrago and Rancel Varga as well as Anthony Arbasto and Alche Gupiteo will carry the flag in the qualifiers of the tournament that caps the PNVF’s busy 2023 calendar and supported by gold sponsors Ayala Land, Mikasa, Senoh, Philippine Sports Commission, Pinay In Action and Smart as gold sponsors and PLDT, Gatorade, Maynilad, Rebisco, Ayala Malls, Department of Tourism, CBPI, Club Laiya, Foton as bronze sponsors.
Meanwhile, reigning champions Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng of the United States as well as top-ranked and world champions Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil are out of the cast this time but the women’s bets are still not lacking in stars.
World No. 7 Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg of Brazil with world No. 9 Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia of China spearhead the main draw of the women’s team with hopes of capturing their own moments this time.
Also in the 16-team main draw are Filipina spikers Jen Eslapor and Floremel Rodriguez while Sofiah Pagara and Khylem Progella will vie in the 32-team qualifiers, where eight more teams will advance.
Japanese Olympian Miki Ishi and partner Akiko Hasegawa, who’ll turn 38 Thursday, have already tested the five-court Nuvali Sand Courts.
Stalwarts from Australia, Switzerland, France, England, Portugal, China, Chile, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Oman, Thailand, Latvia, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Turkey, Gambia, Morocco, Malaysia, Finland, Slovenia, Ukraine and Slovakia are also in the fray.