COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 15, 2022) – Several U.S. Beach National Team athletes will begin the 2022 international beach volleyball season this week in at the Volleyball World Beach Volleyball Pro Tour Tlaxcala Challenge in Tlaxcala, Mexico.
Six women’s and six men’s teams will compete in the first tournament of the year. Terese Cannon/Sarah Sponcil are the women’s flight’s top seed, and Emily Day/April Ross are third. Sara Hughes/Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman/Lauren Fendrick are also in the top 10.
Corinne Quiggle/Sarah Schermerhorn and Kim Hildreth/Allie Wheeler will compete in the qualifier.
For the men, Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner begin in the main draw, while Chase Budinger/Troy Field, Andy Benesh/Nick Lucena, Taylor Crabb/Taylor Sander, Miles Evans/Logan Webber and Tim Brewster/Travis Mewhirter must advance through the qualifier.
Play begins Wednesday, March 16 with two rounds of qualification. The main draw begins Thursday, March 17. Each match will be livestreamed on volleyballworld.tv (subscription required).
Several teams are beginning their first year or full year together; only Schalk/Brunner partnered together throughout the entire 2021 FIVB campaign. Quiggle/Schermerhorn, Hildreth/Wheeler, Budinger/Field, Crabb/Sander and Brewster/Mewhirter each played together at least once last year, but the remaining American duos in Tlaxcala will be making their competitive debuts.
The Challenge-level event is the first event on the new Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. The tour features three levels of events: Elite 16, Challenge and Futures. Challenge tournaments are the second level of the international circuit and a feeder into the Elite 16. Twenty-four teams of each gender will compete in modified pool play before determining a champion via single elimination bracket.
A new aspect of FIVB tournaments this year is the removal of country quotas, and that will be on full display in Tlaxcala. Together, U.S. and Brazilian pairs make up nine of the 16 women’s main draw teams and more than a quarter of men’s qualifier teams.
Furthermore, 10 teams and 35 athletes from the 2020 Olympic Games will compete this weekend. Returning pairs include women’s bronze medalists Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland and the second seed in the men’s main draw, Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of Netherlands.
The following U.S. teams were added into the qualifier pool off the reserve list:
Jessica Gaffney/Kim Turner
Jade Race/Melissa Fuchs
Adam Roberts/Cody Caldwell
There are now 15 American teams competing in Tlaxcala: eight women’s pairs and seven men’s.