Tillmann

Ostrava Elite16 gold medallists Tillmann and Muller

Germany’s new beach volleyball standouts Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller will be the top-seeded women’s team as the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour visits their country for the Hamburg Elite16 event next week, from August 10 through 14.

The 28 ladies’ pairs set to participate in the USD 300,000 event come from 16 different countries. Twelve of these duos have been seeded directly in the 16-team main draw. The remaining 16 will battle it out for the other four vacancies in next Wednesday’s qualifiers.

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Hamburg live on Volleyball TV.

Tillmann and Muller are set to lead the first of four round-robin pools to get the main draw action underway on August 11. The German pair have had an amazing season so far. They rocketed from number 83 in the FIVB World Ranking at the beginning of the year all the way to the top three in June and July. Tillmann and Muller were the surprise winners of one of the four previous Elite16 events, in Ostrava, and claimed bronze at the Beach Volleyball World Championship Rome 2022.

The current world’s number five will be in good company as they go through the pool stage in Hamburg. The Germans will open their Pool A campaign with a match against ninth-seeded Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina of Latvia, who took silver at the inaugural Elite16 tournament in Rosarito and reached the semifinals in Gstaad. Eighth-seeded Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland, Ostrava bronze medallists and reigning European champions, who return to Hamburg after finishing fourth at the 2019 World Championship held in the northern German city, will also compete in the pool.

Reigning world champions Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) and Ana Patricia Ramos headline Pool B as the second-seeded team in the main draw. In addition to Rome 2022, the Brazilian pair also medalled at the two most recent Elite16 events, with gold in Gstaad and bronze in Jurmala. Duda will try to get back on the Hamburg podium, after she and her previous partner won FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals gold in 2018 and silver in 2017 in the German city. They will share the pool with seventh-seeded compatriots Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti, who are aiming at their third Elite16 medal, after the Rosarito bronze and an Ostrava silver. Talita has also been on the Hamburg podium with a different partner before, with bronze medals at the 2017 World Tour Finals and the 2016 World Tour Major. The world’s number one team less than a month ago, and currently ranked second, Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands will complete the pool, chasing their second Elite16 medal, after the Rosarito gold in March.

Pool C will be highlighted by current World Ranking leaders Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg. Seeded third, the Brazilian duo will arrive in Hamburg with silver medals from the previous two Elite16 tournaments in Jurmala and Gstaad. Barbara took a 2016 Major silver in Hamburg, and Carol finished fourth at the 2018 World Tour Finals. Also in the pool are sixth-seeded Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists and Gstaad Elite16 bronze medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar of Australia, who took Hamburg bronze in 2018 and in 2019. They are joined by 2021 World Tour Finals champions Karla Borger and Julia Sude of Germany.

Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who won the 2019 World Championship gold in Hamburg three years ago, are seeded fourth for the upcoming Elite16 event and will lead Pool D. They are hoping to win their second Elite16 medal, after triumphing in Jurmala. The pool will feature an all-Canadian clash between them and Rome 2022 World Championship runners-up Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec, who will be chasing their first Elite16 podium. The third host country pair, Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider, will also compete in Pool D.

The top five of the 16-team Hamburg qualification bracket seeding consists of three American and two Italian duos. Former US teammates Kelly Cheng and Sarah Sponcil lead the way in positions one and two, respectively, with their current partners Betsi Flint and Terese Cannon. Italy’s Claudia Scampoli and Margherita Bianchin are next down the list. They are followed by compatriots Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi, another American team, Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft, and a number of other duos ready to leave their mark in the German sand.