BPT Challenge Torquay Women - AUSvsJPN-2

Aussies Stefanie Fejes & Rebecca Ingram pleased the home fans by advancing to the main draw

Wednesday’s qualifications at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Torquay produced the eight remaining main draw participants in each gender, so 24 women’s and 24 men’s teams are set to get into action as main draw competition at Elephant Walk on the Bass Strait coast starts on Thursday morning at 09:00 local time (22:00 UTC on Wednesday).

The main draw pairs are divided into six pools of four in each gender. A modified pool play format will be applied and the top three duos in each pool will progress to the knockout stage.

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Torquay Challenge event live on Volleyball TV.

A single round of qualification matches was played in the women’s competition on Wednesday and all eight matches were decided in straight sets. Canada’s Darby Dunn and Olivia Grace Furlan and Australia’s Stefanie Fejes and Rebecca Ingram were the only teams that managed to upset higher seeded opponents. The eight winners, also including Czechia’s Helena Havelkova and Marketa Slukova, Canada’s Amanda Harnett and Marie-Alex Belanger, Australia’s Brittany Kendall and Caitlin Bettenay and three Japanese pairs - Sakurako Fujii and Megumi Murakami, Kana Motomura and Harumi Sakai, and Erika Habaguchi and Saki Maruyama – booked their spots in the women’s main draw, which now features duos from 11 different countries.

BPT Challenge Torquay Women - USAvsJPN-15

Japan’s Megumi Murakami dives for the ball

Two American teams are in the top two main draw seeds. Bracket leaders Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng are about to make their new international debut together in Pool A with a match against Dunn and Furlan starting at 12:00 local time (01:00 UTC) on Thursday. Japan’s Ren Matsumoto and Non Matsumoto and Vanuatu’s Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko are the other two members of the pool.

Second-seeded Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft will open the centre court for main draw business on Thursday morning with a Pool B game against host country representatives Fejes and Ingram, while Czech stars Havelkova and Slukova take on Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz in an all-European clash in the other Pool B match.

Dubai 1 Challenge silver medallists Xia Xinyi and Lin MeiMei of China, Slovenia’s Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin, Japan’s Akiko Hasegawa and Yurika Sakaguchi, and Australia’s Alisha Stevens and Nicole Laird, in that order, are the next four highest seeded teams in the main draw and will lead the other four pool brackets. The entire women’s pool stage is set to take place on Thursday.

Batrane & Bialokoz’s highlights against Potts & Clarkin

Only the first leg of matches in the pool stage of the men’s main draw will be played on Thursday, while the deciding pool placement games are scheduled on Friday morning.

England’s Issa Batrane and Frederick Bialokoz won the only three-setter in Wednesday’s qualifiers. The second-seeded team in the men’s qualification bracket came back from a set down to claim a 2-1 (18-21, 21-10, 15-8) victory over Australia’s D'Artagnan Potts and Kaia Clarkin, one of the pairs that had made it successfully through the first qualification round.

The other seven teams that advanced to the men’s main draw included Portugal’s Joao Pedrosa and Hugo Campos, USA’s Kyle Friend and Timothy Brewster, Thailand’s Surin Jongklang and Banlue Nakprakhong, Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato, also of Thailand, Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Mihails Samoilovs, Japan’s Takumi Takahashi and Shiro Furuta and Czechia’s Jan Dumek and Jiri Sedlak.

BPT Challenge Torquay Men -  AUSvsLAT-14

Three-time Olympian and London 2012 bronze medallist Martins Plavins in action alongside new Latvian teammate Mihails Samoilovs

15 different nations will be represented in the men’s main draw, with three Australian duos among the top six seeds to headline their pools. Number one Christopher McHugh and Paul Burnett, who won silver at last week’s AVC Asian Championship and at the Kusadasi Challenge in May, will start their Pool A campaign with a game against Dumek and Sedlak. Batrane and Bialokoz and Spain’s Javier Huerta and Alejandro Huerta will meet in the other Pool A semifinal.

Second-seeded Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert will try to progress from Pool B. Their first encounter is with Takahashi and Furuta, with the winners facing the winners of the match between England’s Javier Bello and Joaquin Bello and Austria’s Christoph Dressler and Maximilian Trummer for the top of the final pool standings.

The Italian pairings of three-time Olympian and Rio 2016 silver medallist Daniele Lupo with Enrico Rossi and of two-time Olympian Adrian Carambula with Alex Ranghieri, Australia’s Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis, and France’s Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat, in that order, lead Pools from C to F. Interestingly, Krou and Gauthier-Rat share their pool with two more French duos, seventh-seeded Arthur Canet and Teo Rotar and 19th-seeded Julien Lyneel and Remi Bassereau, in addition to Serbian pair Lazar Kolaric and Djordje Klasnic.