World Beach Pro Tour Challenge: Latvia wins women’s crown

Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova showed how tenacious their seven-year partnership have become by beating Spain’s Daniela Alvarez Mendoza and Tania Moreno Matveeva, 21-14, 21-18, to reign as the women’s champions of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge on Sunday, December 3, at the world-class Nuvali Sand Courts in Sta. Rosa City.

“We’re very happy that we’ve become even more solid as a pair, although we needed to make some adjustments in both sets,” the 6-foot Tina Gaudina, who started playing with Samoilova in 2016, winning the European Championships twice in 2019 (Moscow) and last year in Munich said.

Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova of Latvia. [PNVF photo]
Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova of Latvia. [PNVF photo]

Ranked world No. 14, the duo were a crowd favorite at the newly-built world-class courts in Nuvali, with Graudina drawing symphatic attention—she played Sunday’s semifinal and final with a small bandage protecting a half-centimeter wound just above her right eyelid.

“While playing, it’s all adrenalin, but before and after each match, I feel bothered,” Graudina said. She sustained the small would when the ball hit her face shattering her shades in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Graudina led from the front with 18 points on 12 hits, four blocks and two aces while Samoilova held the fort on the defensive end with 13 digs plus 12 points on 12 attacks.

Too bad, though, that the Latvian pair had to pack their bags Monday and head for Doha for the culminating leg of the tour.

“I wish we could stay longer, I know that the Philippines has so many beaches … maybe next time,” said Graudina, adding the weather was too hot for them, but one they could handle.

“See this water on our bodies? They’re our sweat,” she said despite the final being played under a drizzle. “But we love it here, our first time, and we hope to come back next year.”

World No. 14 Anastasija Samoilova and Tina Graudina of Latvia trounced world No. 21 Daniela Alvarez Mendoza and Tania Moreno Matveeva of Spain, 21-14, 21-18, to reign supreme as the newest women’s champions of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge on Sunday at the world-class Nuvali Sand Courts in Sta. Rosa City.

Latvia beat world No. 18 Terese Cannon and Megan Kraft of the United States in the quarterfinals, 21-19, 21-18, before fending off the powerhouse pair of Taina Silvi Bigi and Victoria Lopes Pereira Tosta, world No. 13, from Brazil, in the semifinals, 21-18, 21-17, in the event supported by gold sponsors Ayala Land, Mikasa, Senoh, Philippine Sports Commission, Pinay In Action and Smart as gold sponsors and PLDT, Gatorade, Maynilad, Rebisco, Ayala Malls, Department of Tourism, CBPI, Club Laiya, Foton as bronze sponsors.

Bigi and Tosta went on to clinch bronze by beating world No. 20 Lezana Placette and Alexia Richard of France, 21-17, 21-14.

The tandem of Mendoza and Moreno defeated world No. 24 Taravadee Naraphornrapat and Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee of Thailand, 21-15, 21-16, in the quarterfinals.

The Spanish bets then escaped past the world No. 20 French pair of Placette and Richard in the semifinals, 21-19, 21-8, before a final defeat to the Latvian stalwarts for the silver medal in the biggest beach volleyball event ever hosted by the Philippines behind the leadership of Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.

World No. 27 Robin Seidl and Moritz Pristauz of Austria arranged a final duel with world No. 13 Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert of Australia in the men’s division played late Sunday.

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