2018-01-08 10:53:00 CET

Debut delight in Den Haag

Two new teams storm to success in season opener

Beach Volleyball on Twitter

Let me take a selfie! 📸#DELABeachOpen

New season, new teams, new medal winners! 2018 on the beach began with two new partnerships stunning the rest by winning gold in the Netherlands.

The four-star tournament in The Hague saw a number of new teams kick-off their seasons and it was April Ross and Alex Klineman of the USA and Martin Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia who took the first gold medals of the year.

In the men’s tournament, the Latvians saw off the challenge of Poland powerhouses Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak to take first place with a superb straight sets victory, winning 21-14, 21-12. The golden pair, who joined forces for in the off-season, were in brilliant form during the tournament – winning all six matches, including impressive triumphs over Brazil’s Solberg/Wanderley, Saxton/O’Gorman of Canada and Holland’s Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.

Beachvolleybal on Twitter

✨ Plavins/Tocs ✨ Winners #DELABeachOpen

In an all-Dutch battle for third place, it was crowd favorites and 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Brouwer/Meeuwsen that took home the bronze, beating Christiaan Varenhorst and Jasper Bouter – another newly-formed team.

“We wanted to win this tournament and before the match we said it wasn’t really about the medal,” Brouwer said with mixed feelings. “Of course it is brilliant, but another bronze is a bit hard for us.”

In the women’s competition, Ross and Klineman were in unstoppable form as they won 10 matches on the spin to blitz their way through country quota and qualification and all the way to gold. Their path to the top of the podium included victories over three Brazilian teams, Agatha/Duda, Fernanda/Barbara and Antonelli/Salgado.

USAV Beach on Twitter

BOOM! The new team of Alix Klineman and April Ross is off to a great start. The team won GOLD at the #DELABeachOpen, beating Brazil's Maria Antonelli and Carol, 21-12, 21-15 in the final on Sunday. 💥🌴🏐

April and Alex – who was playing her first beach tournament – took gold with a straight sets win over Antonelli/Salgado, to give 35-year-old Ross her 22nd gold medal on the international beach scene. Nice one, April!

“We have a great feeling and we’re all on the same page,” a delighted Ross said afterwards. “We all have the same mentality, the same culture and same values. 

“That matters so much when you’re on the court and you’re playing so hard for each other. It is a really, really special feeling out there.”

Europe was guaranteed a medal, with two teams – Switzerland’s Hüberli/Betschart and Hermannová/Sluková of the Czech Republic – going head-to-head in the bronze medal match. And third place went to the Swiss stars with a 21-18, 21-10 victory.

There’s now a break before the next tournament on the World Tour, a one-star tournament scheduled in Shepparton, Australia, February 1-4. It’s now only 50 days until the Fort Lauderdale Major – the first five-star competition of the year. Click here for further information!

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