Satun, Thailand, April 6, 2018 – The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returns to Thailand from April 8 to 11 with the picturesque Pak Bara Beach in Satun to host a one-star double-gender tournament, the first of two Thai stops on the Tour in 2018.
A total of 75 teams (44 men’s and 31 women’s pairs) from 27 different countries have registered to take to the courts at the SMM Pak Bara Beach Satun event, boasting $10,000 in prize money. 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. With 12 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining four spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Sunday, April 8.
Home stars Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee lead the way on entry points in the women’s preliminary seeding. The well-seasoned Thai pair are aiming for their first gold medals on the FIVB World Tour after claiming a couple of runner-up spots on the podium in 2017 – in Daegu and Ulsan – their first and only medals on the Tour so far. At the most recent FIVB tournament that took place in Thailand, the 2014 Pattaya Challenger, Radarong and Udomchavee finished third.
Paraguay’s Michelle Sharon Valiente Amarilla and Erika Sofia Mongelos Bobadilla, 19 and 21 years old, respectively, who finished fifth at the 2016 U21 World Championship in Lucerne, come second in line in the Satun main draw seedings. The closest these young talents got to a World Tour podium was Erika Bobadilla’s fourth place in Agadir last July, then teaming up with Gabriela Filippo.
Dhita Juliana and Putu Utami from Indonesia are the third duo in the women’s preliminary seedings. Having collected their points only at continental and zonal events so far, Dhita and Putu are ready to make their debut on the FIVB World Tour in Satun on Monday.
Three more teams from Thailand, one more from Indonesia, two each from Japan and USA and a pair from Kazakhstan complete the list of 12 duos seeded directly into the women’s main draw, awaiting four more additions from Sunday’s qualification battles.
Indonesia’s Ade Rachmawan and Mohammad Ashfiya top the main draw list on the men’s side. After making their FIVB debut at the World Championship in Vienna in 2017, the Indonesian pair will be playing their fourth World Tour event next week in Satun. The fifth place at their most recent appearance, in Aalsmeer in March, was their best finish so far.
Two Iranian duos complete the top three in the men’s preliminary entry point seeding. Bahman Salemiinjehboroun, who won bronze at Agadir 2017 and silver at Muscat 2018, both with Rahman Raoufi, is partnering with Arash Vakili for the first time. Vakili also played in Muscat, alongside Abbas Pourasgari, ending up in fifth place.
For the SMM Pak Bara Beach Satun event, Rahman Raoufi is also teaming up with a new partner - Abolhamed Mirzaali, whose best finish on the World Tour so far is a fifth place at Muscat 2018. On Monday, when Raoufi starts the quest for his third World Tour medal, he will be celebrating his 40th birthday.
Rahman Raoufi can expect more on-court kisses like this for his 40th birthday on Monday
One more team from Indonesia, pairs from Australia, Japan, Slovenia and Sweden and four duos representing host country Thailand are also among those already holding a direct ticket to the men’s main draw in Satun.