Hamburg, Germany - With the 24-team men's and women's field for next week's $800,000 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals at Rothenbaum Stadium starting here Wednesday, 14 of the participating pairs and six individuals are competing in events this week in Latvia and the United States.
The Latvian event in Jurmala features competition for the gold medals at the European finale where defending champions and Rio Olympic medal winners Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy have advanced to the quarterfinals. Both pairs will be in Hamburg where Ludwig and Walkenhorst will be seeking their second-straight Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals women's crown.
Other Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals participants in the women's quarterfinals at this week’s European Championships are Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany and Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova of the Czech Republic.
In addition to Lupo and Nicolai, other men's World Tour Finals entrants that competed in the European finale were Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (ninth), Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin of Russia (ninth), Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain (17th) and Armin Dollinger/Jonathan Erdmann of Germany (25th).
Men's World Tour Finals participants competing in the European Championships were Lorenz Schumann (ninth with Julius Thole) and Markus Bockermann (25th with Yannick Harms) of Germany and Alexander Horst of Austria (25th with Julian Horl). With Lars Fluggen sidelined with knee problems, Bockermann will play with Schumann in Hamburg. Horst will team with Clemens Doppler in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals.
Other women's Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals entrants that competed in Jurmala were the Swiss pairs of Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré (ninth) and Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli (ninth). Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic, who will be competing in Hamburg, had to withdraw from the European Championships due to injuries.
In the United States in southern California at Manhattan Beach, four American pairs set for next week for Hamburg are starting play Friday along with two Canadians players that are competing with host country contestants. Canadian Sarah Pavan also competed in the Manhattan Beach Open with Skylar Caputo, but the duo was eliminated in the final round of Thursday's qualifier where 98 men's and 59 women's pairs were seeking Main Draw berths in the 32-team "money" rounds for both genders.
Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals contestants playing in the Manhattan Beach women's division are Americans Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick/April Ross along with Canadian Brandie Wilkerson (with Nicole Branagh). In the men's competition, American Swatch Finals competitors Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson are seeking Manhattan gold along with Canadian Chaim Schalk (with Marty Lorenz).
The third annual Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals starts Wednesday and will feature 12-team fields for both men’s and women. The competition starts with pool matches followed by elimination bracket play. With Rothenbaum Stadium hosting an international beach volleyball event for the second-straight season, the winning teams in each gender’s competition will share the $100,000 first-place prizes. The women’s finale will be August 26 and the men’s final four matches August 27.