Ljubljana, Slovenia, August 2, 2018 – Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is all set to host the next one-star event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour from August 3 through 5, following on from beach volleyball events held in the city in recent years including the highly successful CEV Beach Volleyball Masters for men and Satellite for women in July 2017.
The tournament in Ljubljana builds on solid foundations after the success of the CEV event and of the Ljubljana Beach Volley Challenge in previous years. It will once again bring beach volleyball to the heart of the Slovenian capital, where visitors will also enjoy music, dance, and be able to participate in a range of activities alongside the action on court.
The upcoming event has attracted as many as 72 teams (33 men’s and 39 women’s pairs) from 28 different countries, with all five continental confederations represented.
In each gender, a 16-team main draw will feature a modified pool play system with the top three teams in each four-team pool progressing into the single elimination stage. Main draw action will take place at the Ludus Sports Park in Crnuce and on Congress Square in Ljubljana. With 12 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining four spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Friday, August 3, in Crnuce.
Slovenia have as many as four teams per gender seeded in the main draw and an additional team per gender will attempt to progress through the qualifications. Jan Pokersnik and Nejc Zemljak will play in Ljubljana as the top-seeded team in the men’s tournament, while the country's best women’s team Tjasa Kotnik and Tjasa Jancar, who made last year’s semifinals, are ranked eighth in the preliminary seeding on entry points.
“There are still some nice memories of last year’s fourth place, so we’re really looking forward to this tournament. There are definitely some excellent teams competing and that will make the competition interesting. We’ll need to prepare for each individual match and let’s hope for the best. Our goal is to claim a medal,” Kotnik said.
The Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova and Martina Maixnerova lead the way on entry points in the women’s preliminary seeding. Bonnerova took silver at the Agadir two-star last week, her third medal on the World Tour so far. It is the first time on the Tour she will be teaming up with 19-year-old Maixnerova, for whom this will be only the third appearance.
Last year’s bronze medallists in Ljubljana, Inna Makhno and Iryna Makhno, come second on the entry list. The 23-year-old Ukrainian twin sisters will be looking for their second World Tour medal after the silver they earned at Porec last month.
Sofia Starikov and Anita Deev complete the top three in the women’s preliminary seeding. It will be the first time the two Israeli players will appear on the World Tour together. For both, a fourth place is the best result on the Tour so far.
Duos from Greece, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland, as well as one more Czech pair, complete the list of 12 teams seeded directly into the women’s main draw, awaiting four more additions emerging from Friday’s qualification battles.
In the men's competition, home favourites Nejc Zemljak and Jan Pokersnik are hoping to win their second World Tour medal after the gold they claimed at Montpellier in 2017. Zemljak’s showcase also boasts a 2005 U19 World Championship title. At last year’s Ljubljana Masters, the Slovenian duo finished fourth.
“Beach volleyball players usually spend a lot of time traveling abroad. That’s why I really like to play in Ljubljana, in front of the home crowd. I’m sure we will witness high-level performances. There are some top-notch teams in the tournament, which promises interesting matches. My partner Jan and I still hope that at the end we’ll be able to capitalize on our experience and gain a medal,” Zemljak commented.
Second in the men’s preliminary seeding are Marcio Guadie Ley and Arthur Diego Mariano Lanci. Arthur is a 2016 U21 world champion and a 2014 U19 world champion, while Marcio Guadie is a silver medallist from the 2013 U23 World Championship. Neither of them has ever won a medal on the World Tour though.
Sergiy Popov and Vladyslav Iemelianchyk come third in line. At their last appearance on the World Tour, at the Porec one-star tournament in July, the Ukrainians won gold, the only podium finish for either player. However, as is true for Brazilian player Arthur, Popov has bragging rights over two under-age World Championship titles – U19 in 2009 and U21 in 2011.
In addition to these three teams and the three other Slovenian pairs, the main draw line-up of 12 duos includes tandems from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Latvia, USA, Canada and Switzerland.