Porec, Croatia, June 21, 2017 - With nearly 160 men’s and women’s teams from 41 countries registered for next week’s FIVB World Tour event, preparations continued here Wednesday for the $600,000 Porec Major as the Swatch Major Series stop returns to the Croatian coastal resort city for the third-straight season.
Competition for Porec Major officially starts Tuesday with qualifying for the eighth double gender event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball calendar. Eight men’s and women’s pairs will advance to Wednesday’s opening Main Draw pool play rounds to establish the field for the 24-team elimination brackets that lead to the weekend finales.
Country quota playoff matches for Brazil and the United States are tentatively scheduled for Monday. When play commences Tuesday, competition will be held in the main stadium along with side courts at Valamar and Laguna. The main stadium court will also feature night matches the first four days of Main Draw play.
The three-court setup for the Porec Major features the main stadium court (top) with Laguna (bottom left) and Valamar.
The women’s quarterfinals will be played June 30 to set the field for July 1’s final four matches highlighted by the evening medal matches under the lights where the winning team will share the $40,000 first-place prize. The men’s elite eight contests will be played July 1 with the late morning semifinals and afternoon medal matches being held July 2.
Topping the entry list are defending Porec Major gold medal winning teams Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany. While the Brazilian title was predictable, the gold medal finish for Laboureur/Sude was surprising since the Germans had to qualify for the 2016 Porec Major Main Draw and overcome a setback earlier in the competition to win six straight matches en route to the top of the Swatch Major Series podium.
In the 2016 Porec Major men's finale, Alison and Bruno posted a 2-1 (21-13, 16-21, 15-12) win in 52 minutes over Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria.
Laboureur and Sude scored a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) women's gold medal win in 38 minutes over Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley of Canada.
2016 Porec Major women's winners Julia Sude (left) and Chantal Laboureur of Germany
Host Croatia has already placed three men’s and two women’s pairs in the Porec Major Main Draw with two other teams per gender in the qualifier. Host country men’s teams in the 'money' rounds are Niksa Dellorco/Ivan Perisic, Ivan Djordjevic/Filip Silic and Marin Jercic/Kresimir Karaula. Main Draw women’s teams for Croatia are Dina Becic/Sara Radanovic and Maja Rosko/Jurja Vlasic. Playing in the men’s qualifier for Croatia are Matej Cickovic/Josip Pribanic and Matija Gracin/Jegor Zukovskij with women participants for the host country being Luna Becic/Mirna Becic and Marina Coric/Nikolina Jelic.
The Porec Major will also mark the international beach volleyball debut for Perisic, who plays soccer in Italy with Inter Milan where he scored 11 goals and was credited with 11 assists this past season. For the Croatian national team, Perisic had played in 56 events with 16 goals highlighted by an appearance in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Croatian soccer player Ivan Perisic
“I have been given permission to play in a beach volleyball tournament of the highest importance,” said Perisic in a prepared statement on June 9. “My only wish is to stay in the tournament for as long as possible. I hope my participation in the Porec Major will help promote this unique tournament and promote this beautiful sport. The fee that we will receive as a team from the organizers will be donated to the beach volleyball federation to benefit the development of Croatian beach volleyball players.”
Although Perisic and Dell’Orco will not know their opponents until the Main Draw pairings are determined next Tuesday evening following the qualification tournaments, the Croatian tandem will play all their matches on the Centre Court. Perisic and Dell’Orco will make their debut together Wednesday at 21.00 (local time) with their second match the same time the following day. The Croatians’ final pool play match will take place June 30 at 13.00 local time.
With the first Swatch Major Series event being played in mid-February in the United States, the third is set for July 4-9 in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad. Brazilians swept the podium in the 2017 Swatch Major Series opener in south Florida with Saymon Barbosa/Alvaro Filho topping the men's podium and Olympians Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca the women’s gold medal winners.
Brazilians Saymon Barbosa (left) and Alvaro Filho topped the Fort Lauderdale Major men's podium in mid-February
Talita and Larissa, who won the gold medal at the inaugural Porec Major in 2015 by defeating Bansley and Pavan in a three-set finale, also captured the 2016 Swatch Major Series stop in Gstaad while the men’s winning team of Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil are playing with new partners this season - Andre Loyola and Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes, respectively.