Doha, 10 March 2020 - Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan will lead Qatar’s challenge at the 4-Star Katara Beach Volleyball Open.
The eight-seeded Qatari team, who won bronze medal in ther 2019 edition, will launch their campaign against qualifiers Sergiy Popov and Laroslav Gordieiev from Ukraine today at the scenic Katara Cultural Village.
The other two Qatar teams are Issam Mahmoud-Mahdi Sammoud and Saifeddine Elmajid-Ziad Abdelmajeed. Over 51 teams from 28 countries are competing for the 800 ranking points in the tournament which will conclude on March 13.
Chilean Grimalt cousins Marco and Esteban will return to defend the gold medal they won last year. It was their first 4-Star title when they defeated the USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) in the final.
Lucena and Dalhausser will also be back in action and are one of six USA teams on the entry list. Qatar have built up a strong tradition of hosting World Tour events since they organised their first event in 2014. Two more followed in 2015 and 2016, then in 2018, the tournament grew from a 3-Star tournament to a 4-Star tournament.
Meanwhile yesterday, Quincy Aye and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat were one of eight teams who reached the main draw when they defeated Japan’s Nobuaki Taira and Ryota Sato 2-0 (21-14, 21-12).
“It was a good two zero, but we had to be careful of them because they both have really good technique and can play well,” Aye said. “We had to play our game and stay focused and that is what we did.”
Aye and Gauthier-Rat last featured on the World Tour at the Chetumal 4-Star in November where they finished ninth.
Since then they have been away from their Toulouse base for warm weather training which allowed them to start their first tournament of 2020 in fine form.
“We had a training camp in Tenerife and then one in Brazil,” Aye said.
“It was great to practice there because of the weather there and the conditions for us.”
Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen will be one of the teams that join them in the main draw after they saw off Gambia’s Sainey Jawo and Mbye Babou Jarra 2-0 (21-10, 21-18).
In 2016, the Mexican pair reached the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games knockout rounds and they will be aiming to use their performance in Doha as a springboard to Tokyo 2020.
“It was a good win, it’s always a good win when you get into the main draw,” Ontiveros said. “The wind made it tough and the Gambia guys tried to squeeze us in the second set.
“They are really tall, and they jump so high and hit the ball so hard. So, we had to be careful because the wind made the match more balanced.”
The men-only tournament will run until March 13 at Katara Cultural Village. It is the second of nine 4-Star events on the 2019-2020 calendar and the winners will leave with 800 ranking points.
The seventh annual FIVB stop in Doha has attracted 42 teams from 24 countries as the winning team will share the $20,000 first-place prize.
The Katara Beach Volleyball Cup is the second 4-star event on the 2019-2020 World Tour calendar with the first being last November in Mexico where Americans Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb topped the podium.
Crabb and Gibb are entered this week along with the team that the Americans defeated in the Chetumal finale – Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. Crabb’s older brother Trevor placed third in the Mexican event with Tri Bourne.
In addition to Brouwer/Meeuwsen (World Ranking No. 6) and Taylor Crabb/Gibb (No. 8), other top-ranked FIVB World Tour pairs competing in Doha are No. 2 Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia, No. 4 Evandro Goncalves/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, No. 5 Julius Thole/Sven Winter of Germany, No. 7 Michal Bryl Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland and No. 9s. Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain and Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States.
Qatar has built up a strong tradition of hosting World Tour events since it hosted its first in 2014.
Two more followed in 2015 and 2016, then in 2018 the tournament grew from a 3-Star tournament to a 4-Star tournament.