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Grimalts please home crowd with continental victory

09.02.2020 - Vienna, Austria

The Chilean cousins prevailed at the opening event of the South American in Coquimbo

The Grimalt family has changed the history of beach volleyball in Chile forever, but Marco and Esteban are not done yet. The cousins secured another massive result for the country as they won the opening event of the 2020 South American Tour in their home sand of Coquimbo on Sunday.

Currently ranked 17th in the world, the Grimalts survived a tough battle with Brazilians Ricardo Santos, a 2004 Olympic champion, and Vitor Felipe to secure a 2-1 (14-21, 21-19, 15-6) come-from-behind triumph that guaranteed them the gold medals in front of 2,500 Chilean fans.

“We had to turn things around quite a few times this week,” Esteban joked when talking about the final match. “Ricardo is a legend of the sport, one of the best of all times and even at 45 he’s still elite. We’re very proud that we have defeated him and made our fans happy. For us, this is the first step of what we hope will be a big year with the Olympics coming up in the summer. It gives us a lot of confidence and motivation going forward.”

Ironically, the Grimalts are now coached by Ricardo’s cousin and his main inspiration growing up, former Brazilian player Paulao Moreira, who won seven World Tour events during his playing career and has also coached beach volleyball teams in Italy and Israel.

Brazil also took the bronze medal of the tournament with the recently-reunited Pedro Solberg and Guto Carvalhaes, the winners of the 2017 Poreč Major, who defeated Argentineans Julian Azaad and Nicolas Capogrosso in straight sets (21-17, 21-17).

If Brazil missed the gold medal in the men’s tournament, that wasn’t the case in the women’s event as 23-year-old Andressa Cavalcanti and 20-year-old Vitoria Rodrigues topped the podium at the Chilean coastal city.

The young team upset two-time Olympian Ana Gallay and her temporary Argentinean partner Cecilia Peralta in the three-set (16-21, 21-16, 15-13) to secure their first victory together.

“It was a very tough match,” Andressa commented afterwards. "The Argentineans are great players and they were strong opponents. The good thing is that we managed to overcome the difficulties together. We're a new team and we're still building our identity, so it was nice to see that our union made the difference.”

Argentina also took bronze among the women with London 2012 Olympian Virginia Zonta and Brena Churin downing the home team of Francisca Rivas and Chris Vorpahl in three sets (17-21, 21-13, 15-10).

The second stop of the South American Tour will take place in Lima, Peru, from March 13-15.