The US$150,000 Katara Beach Volleyball Cup Doha 2020 for men starts Monday in Qatar with 16 teams competing for the final eight berths in the main draw where pool play will be held Tuesday followed by two elimination rounds on Wednesday, the quarterfinals on Thursday and the final four matches on Friday.
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.
Chetumal podium (left to right) featured Alexander Brouwer, Robert Meeuwsen, Jake Gibb, Taylor Crabb, Trevor Crabb and 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.
Starting on Thursday in Malaysia, Langkawi welcomes the FIVB World Tour for the fourth-straight year where 52 men's and women's teams from 21 countries have entered the $10,000 event. Qualifying will be held on Thursday followed by pool play on Friday, elimination Saturday and the final four matches on Sunday.
A Russian men's team (Anton Kislytsyn/Daniil Kuvichka) and an American women's pair topped the 2019 Langkawi podium. Cubans Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez won the inaugural Langkawi men's title in 2017 with Austrains Simon Fruhbauer/Jorg Wutzl the 2018 winners. The first two Langkawi women's gold medal teams were Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman of the United States in 2017 and Russians Ksenia Dabizha/Daria Mastikova in 2018.
The 2019 Langkawi men's finale was an all-Russian affair
Headlining the Langkawi field will be Yurika Sakaguchi and Chiyo Suzuki as the Japanese pair captured the gold medal this past Sunday in Guam where they defeated Kimberly Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn of the United States in the finals.
It marked the second gold medal for the Japanese pair on the FIVB World Tour with a title last August in Hungary. In claiming her third FIVB gold medal, Suzuki has now won more World Tour titles than any other Japanese men's or women's participant since the start of international-sanctioned events in 1987.
The Guam podium with American and Japanese players
Guam, Hagatna, March 5-8, 2020, US$5,000, FIVB women’s event No. 427
1. Yurika Sakaguchi/Chiyo Suzuki, Japan, $1,000
2. Kimberly Hildreth/Sarah Schermerhorn, United States, $700
3. Suzuka Hashimoto/Ayumi Kusano, Japan, $500
4. Megan Kraft/Delaynie Maple, United States, $400
Gold - Sakaguchi/Suzuki def. Hildreth/Schermerhorn, 21-16, 21-12 (32 minutes)
Bronze - Hashimoto/Kusano def. Kraft/Maple, 21-15, 21-12 (37)
Following this week's action, the FIVB World Tour remains within the Asian confederation with a $150,000 men's and women's tournament March 18-22 in Coolangatta, Australia. The international circuit concludes March's schedule with a $300,000 event in Mexico for men's and women's play in Cancun.