08_BPT Rosarito - Men QF NORvsBRA

A 2017 world champion, Andre Loyola will try to win his second consecutive title in Itapema

Set to host the first stop on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour in South America, a Challenge tournament from April 14-17, the city of Itapema has grown used to having some of the best players in the world competing at the Meia Praia Beach over the last few years.

The coastal city located in southern Brazil staged international tournaments in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and is ready for a strong lineup of teams headed to Itapema for the event.

· Watch all the matches of the Itapema Challenge live or on demand on Volleyball TV.

The event in Brazil will feature men’s teams from 20 different countries in a list that includes two Olympic champions, eight Olympic medallists and 29 Olympians.

Topping the entries are Brazilians Andre Loyola, a 2017 world champion, and George Wanderley. The two have a history in Itapema and won the final FIVB World Tour event which was played in the city last November. It was their first and only international victory as partners.

Andre also took a place at the top of the podium at the Meia Praia Beach in 2018, playing with former partner Evandro Goncalves. George and Andre are coming from a fifth-place finish at the first Elite16 event of the season, which was played in Rosarito, Mexico, in March.

One of the three Dutch teams to feature in the main draw in Itapema, Olympic medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen arrive in Brazil in even better form after they took silver in Rosarito.

03_BPT Rosarito - Men Main Draw NEDvsUSA

Dutchmen Brouwer and Meeuwsen will aim to build on the momentum they had in Rosarito

Ranked third in the FIVB World Ranking and seeded fourth in Itapema, the 2013 world champions will be accompanied by second-seeded compatriots Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot and a third Dutch team in Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde, who rank fifth on the entry list.

The only men’s team to make it to the semifinals in the first two Beach Pro Tour events in Mexico, Polish pair Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak will want to continue their excellent form in Itapema. The Europeans took gold at the Tlaxcala Challenge and settled for fourth at the Rosarito Elite16.

Outside the Netherlands, hosts Brazil are the only country to feature multiple teams directly in the main draw with Tokyo Olympians Evandro Goncalves and Alvaro Filho, Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes and last year’s Itapema’s silver medallists Vitor Felipe and Renato Lima joining Andre and George.

The event in Brazil will also mark the first appearance of Germans Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers as partners. The two were entered for the events in Mexico, but had to withdraw and will finally be seen on the court together in Itapema.

The qualifier in Itapema will also feature some international beach volleyball heavyweights. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Bruno Schmidt and his partner Saymon Barbosa will be among the teams that will try to make it to the main draw and are seeded 10th in the qualifier.

Italian Paolo Nicolai, who faced Bruno and Alison in the gold medal match at the Rio Olympics six years ago with former partner Daniele Lupo, is ranked third in the qualifier with new partner Samuele Cottafava. Latvian Edgars Tocs, who made it to the semifinals in Tokyo last year, will have a bigger ladder to climb as new partner Kristian Fokerots and he are ranked 24th.

The sensations of the Tlaxcala Challenge, Chileans Noe Aravena and Vicente Droguett will try to repeat the feat they accomplished in Mexico, when they started in the qualifier and ended the tournament on the podium, with a silver medal around their necks. One of three Chilean teams in the qualifier, they are ranked 15th.

The event in Itapema starts on Thursday the 14th, with the qualifier, when eight of the 32 teams entered will advance. The main draw begins on Friday, with 24 teams split into four pools. Three teams in each group will advance to the elimination round, which starts on Saturday. The medal matches in Itapema will be played on Sunday.