2019-01-01 10:00:00 CET
These young guns could make some noise on the sand in the upcoming season
Experience counts a lot in beach volleyball, but every year some young players show that every rule has its exceptions.
In 2018, some youngsters accomplished great results on the World Tour despite their young ages and that means they will be confident ahead of the upcoming 2019 season.
Here are some names you really should pay attention to when the new season kicks off:
Ana Patricia Ramos
The towering Brazilian blocker ended the 2018 World Tour season in high note as partner Rebecca Cavalcanti and her collected gold at three-star tournament in Qinzhou and silver the following week at the four-star event in Yangzhou. At 1.94m-tall and just 20 years old, Ana Patricia is a force at the net and her game could become even more dominating as she gets more tournaments under her belt. The competition for Olympic berths among the Brazilian teams will be tough, but don’t count them out.
The 22-year-old Russian defender played his first full World Tour season in 2018 and he did pretty well, taking home the Rookie of the Year award and winning gold at both the three-star event in Mersin and the four-star tournament in Yanghzou and a bronze in another four-star, in Ostrava. The team was fourth at the European Championships. Sharing the courts with two-time Olympian Konstantin Semenov, Leshukov saw most of the serves and held his own against some of the best teams in the world.
The 22-year-old defender is still playing college beach volleyball for UCLA, where she became a national champion in 2018, but she definitely belongs among the elite of the sport. A crafty defender, Sponcil had three different partners in just six tournaments last season, but she managed to get to podium with two of them, winning bronze medals in three-star events with Caitlin Ledoux, in Haiyang, and Kelly Claes, in Qinzhou. She established a permanent partnership with Claes and the duo will pursue an Olympic berth.
Standing at 2.09m, the 21-year-old German is one of the tallest players on the Tour and he used his height to his advantage to complete a successful 2018 season with Clemens Wickler. The team claimed a bronze medal at the four-star event in Espinho and gave the beach volleyball elite a tough time in a host of tournaments, finishing fourth at the World Tour Finals in their home sand of Hamburg. Playing against the best doesn’t seem to be a problem for Thole, as he compiled victories over Norway’s Anders Mol/Christian Sørum, USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena, Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Andre Loyola and Italy’s Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai.
The Young Russian will be 16 when the season kicks off but her age has certainly not been an issue so far. With 18-year-old partner Maria Voronina, the 1.83m-tall Bocharova has reached the highest level of success in age-group tournaments as they won the Youth Olympic Games, the Under-19 World Championships and the Under-20 European Championships. The team also enjoyed some good finishes on the World Tour, ranking fifth at the three-star event in Chetumal and ninth in Lucerne.
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