2018-08-14 07:00:00 CEST
Here's all you need to know about the 10 women's teams that will play in the World Tour Finals
Markéta Sluková/Barbora Hermannová, Czech Republic
Sluková and Hermannová will represent the Czech Republic in the World Tour Finals for the second straight year after they finished fifth in 2017. The duo qualified via their world ranking and much of that can be credited to their recent form as the Czech have lately won the A1 Vienna Major presented by Swatch and the four-star event in their home sand of Ostrava. They also collected the bronze medal in the European Championship in July. The team was formed in August 2015 and competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics, where it finished 17th. Since then, Sluková and Hermannová have been in the same side of the net in 33 World Tour events, winning three golds, one silver and one bronze.
Agatha Bednarczuk/Duda Lisboa, Brazil
Qualifying through the international ranking, Agatha and Duda return to Hamburg for their second World Tour Finals appearance as a team as they won silver at the Rothenbaum last year. Agatha has also won a bronze in Fort Lauderdale in 2015 with former partner Barbara Seixas. Since they joined forces, in 2017, Agatha, a silver medalist at the Rio 2016 Olympics and a 2015 world champion, and Duda, who has won five FIVB youth world titles along with the gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics, have competed in 19 World Tour events, winning two golds, three silvers and four bronzes. In 2018, they won a home gold at the four-star tournament in Itapema, a silver in Moscow and a bronze in Warsaw.
Maria Elisa Antonelli/Carolina Solberg, Brazil
Maria Antonelli and Carolina are set to make their debuts in the World Tour Finals this week after their qualified via world ranking. Despite of their large experience in the World Tour – both have been playing internationally since 2004 - they had ups and downs in 2015 and 2016 and just found their best form when they joined forces in 2017. Since then, the 34-year-old Antonelli, a London 2012 Olympian, and the 31-year old Carolina, a two-time Under-21 world champion, have won medals in four of the 17 tournaments they played at, gold in the Hague in 2017, and three silvers in the 2018 season. They were one of the most consistent teams in the world in the current season, earning top-ten finishes in all but one of the 11 tournaments they played at since January.
Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson, Canada
Qualifying through the international ranking, Bansley and Wilkerson are arguably the team that showed the most progress in the 2018 season as the Canadians won their first medals together – and there were four of them, including a gold in the four-star event in Warsaw. They were also second in Ostrava and third in Gstaad, where they stepped in the podium for the first time in the Beach Major Series, and Itapema. It will be the third-straight World Tour Finals appearance for Bansley, a Rio 2016 Olympian, and Wilkerson as the two played their first tournament together in the 2016 edition of the event, in Toronto, where they finished ninth, the same result they had last year in Hamburg.
Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes, Canada
Pavan and Humana-Paredes had a frustrating debut as a team as they were knocked out of the 2016 World Tour Finals after a country-quota loss to Bansley and Wilkerson. Last year, however, they went all the way to the semifinals to finish fourth. The Canadians were one of the most successful teams in the 2018 season, winning golds at the Swatch Major Gstaad and in the four-star tournament in Xiamen and qualified for Hamburg via their world ranking. Their only finish outside of the top-10 happened two weeks ago, when they were 17th in Vienna. Pavan, a Rio 2016 Olympian, and Humana-Paredes, the World Tour’s Most Improved Player in 2017, also triumphed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy, Australia
The 26-year-old Clancy and the 24-year-old Artacho won four World Tour gold medals since they joined forces, in the last portion of the 2017 season. Their good results took them to their first World Tour Finals as a team as they were qualified through the international ranking. Clancy, who played the tournament in 2016 with Louise Bawden and finished fifth, and Artacho are both Rio 2016 Olympians and they have finished second in the Commonwealth Games, back in April. In the first time they played together, in 2012, they claimed the bronze medal at the Under-21 World Championships.
Julia Sude/Chantal Laboureur, Germany
Germany's top team, 30-year-old Sude and the 28-year-old Laboureur qualified for the World Tour Finals via international ranking for the fourth-straight year and they are the only team to have participated in each of the four edition of the event. The Germans, who play together since 2013, were ninth in 2015 and fifth in 2016 and 2017. After winning gold medals in the World Tour in 2015 and 2016, they had to settle with two silvers (Gstaad and Warsaw) and one bronze (Huntington Beach) in 2018. Their overall record in the World Tour has 58 tournaments, two golds, five silver and three bronzes.
Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider, Germany
The 27-year-old Bieneck and Schneider can credit their consistency for their qualification to the World Tour Finals via world ranking. The Germans finished in the top-10 in each of the nine World Tour events they competed at in 2018 and had their fourth-place finishes at the Fort Laurderdale Major and at the four-star event in Ostrava as their highlights. They won their only international medal in 18 events together back in 2017, when they finished third in a tournament in Xiamen, China. In 2013, they shared the court in the Under-23 World Championship and took the gold medal home.
Madelein Meppelink/Sanne Keizer, the Netherlands
One of the most experienced teams in the tournament, the 28-year-old Meppelink, a two-time Olympian, and the 33-year-old Keizer, who competed in London 2012, are heading to Hamburg for the first time as a team. It will be Keizer’s first appearance in the World Tour Finals while Meppelink played in 2015 with Marleen van Iersel and finished fifth. The Dutch have reunited less than a year ago and seemed to find their best game within the last month, when they topped the podium in the European Championship and won their first medal in the Beach Major Series, a bronze in Vienna.
Summer Ross/Sara Hughes, USA
Summer, 25, and Hughes, 23, are one of the most promising teams of the United States since they joined forces, back in March. They will compete in the World Tour Finals for the first time together – Summer was ninth last year with Brooke Sweat, with whom she claimed the bronze medal at the 2017 Fort Laurderdale Major. The Americans have played in nine World Tour events since they started their partnership and have just won their first gold together, in Moscow,. They also have a bronze medal, claimed in the four-star tournament in Espinho. They teamed up for the first time for the Under-21 World Championship in 2012 and finished fourth.
For the complete pool play overview, click here.