Sydney, Australia, November 21, 2017 – The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is set to make its second stop in Sydney and third in Australia this year, but this time as part of the 2017-2018 edition of the Tour. The double-gender two-star tournament scheduled to take place in Sydney from November 22 through 26 follows the one-star double-gender tournament in Shepparton and the two-star women-only stop in Sydney, which both took place in March as part of the 2017 World Tour.
A total of 79 teams (42 men’s and 37 women’s pairs) from 25 different countries have registered to take part in the $50,000 tournament in Australia’s most populous city. In each gender, a 24-team main draw will start with pool play, followed by single elimination rounds. With 18 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining six spots will be contested in qualification tournaments to be played on Wednesday for men and on Thursday for women.
Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann, representing the host country, lead the line-up in the men’s main draw by entry points. Their Shepparton gold in March was their first medal on the Tour as a team. McHugh had already won bronze at the 2014 Klagenfurt Grand Slam in 2014, with a different partner, Isaac Kapa.
Canada's Ben Saxton and Grant O'Gorman are next in the ranking order. 2016 Olympian Ben Saxton, turning 29 on Tuesday, is well-seasoned on the World Tour with five medals on his tally. However, he is still aiming at his first gold, now with a new partner – 24-year-old O’Gorman, a silver medallist from the U21 World Championship in 2013 who has yet to achieve his first World Tour podium finish on the World Tour.
Another Australian pair, Cole Durant and Zachery Schubert, are the third best ranked team on the men’s main draw line-up for Sydney. They finished second in Shepparton earlier this year - their only medal on the Tour so far.
Two more duos from Australia, two from France and one each from Austria, Brazil, China, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Thailand and USA complete the list of 18 teams seeded directly into the men’s main draw.
Australian pairs take the first and the third spots in the entry-point ranking for the women’s main draw as well. Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy lead the way soon after claiming their first World Tour gold. The 2016 Olympians climbed on top of the podium at the Qinzhou three-star in October 2017, also a part of the 2017-2018 World Tour. For Artacho this was the second medal, after claiming silver at the previous edition of the Sydney tournament in March, together with Jessyka Ngauamo. Clancy’s bronze from Porec 2015 had been the only World Tour medal for her. As a team, Artacho and Clancy are bronze medallists from the U21 World Championship in 2012.
China’s Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia are ranked second into the Sydney main draw. Rio Olympian Wang appeared on the Tour for the first time with 20-year-old new partner Xia at the Qinzhou three-star, where they finished fourth. Previously, Wang had one silver in 2017 and two in 2014, all with her previous teammate Yuan Yue. Despite her younger age, Xia has already won three gold, two silver and two bronze medals on the World Tour.
Louise Bawden and Jessyka Ngauamo are the other home team in the top three of the ranking. 36-year-old two-time Olympian Bawden has never won gold on the World Tour, but she has one silver and two bronze medals on her record. This will be the second time she is teaming up with 21-year-old Ngauamo, after they finished fifth in Qinzhou. Ngauamo’s only medal on the Tour so far is the silver she won with Mariafe Artacho in Sydney earlier this year.
The 18-team women’s main draw line-up also features three duos from Japan, two more from Australia, two each from Thailand and USA, and one each from Austria, Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, Romania and Vanuatu.