Beach volleyball takes centre stage at Rio 2016 tennis venue

The Olympic Tennis Centre in Rio’s Barra Olympic Park played host to the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in May. The event provided local fans with plenty to cheer, as Brazilian duos topped the podiums in both the men's and women's competitions.

The Olympic tennis venue was initially repurposed for beach volleyball ahead of a mini exhibition tournament in February this year, which was considered a huge success.

According to Fulvio Danilas, the beach volleyball director of the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation (CBV), the use of tennis courts for beach volleyball is becoming an increasingly common practice in Brazil and elsewhere, as it is economically more practicable than staging the tournaments on the beach.

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“Hosting beach volleyball events in tennis arenas started in the United States, but it is also done in Germany and the Czech Republic,” he explained. “Here, we already have all the infrastructure ready, including lots of parking. The only job was to bring in the sand and cover the court with three layers of sturdy canvas to avoid damaging it. If we had held the tournament on the beach, we would have to pay the city council a lot of money for the space and it would have been less comfortable for the fans.

“It was a success. The athletes really liked the sand we put on, and the crowd looked very happy, " added Danilas. He also revealed that plans were afoot to make beach volleyball facilities a permanent feature within the city’s Olympic Park.

"We hope to build four beach volleyball courts on the outside of the Olympic Park with the sand we brought to the tennis arena. They will be available to the public and will help encourage the practice of our sport.”

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In the men’s final, Brazil’s second-seeded Olympic champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt defeated sixth-seeds Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland, 2-0 (25-23, 21-12). Schmidt, who capped a great personal triumph, as he was named outstanding player of the tournament, was delighted to add another title to his collection, hailing the atmosphere at the Olympic venue: “Great to win a title here at the Olympic Park,” he enthused. “The fans were fantastic and the atmosphere was marvellous.”

In the women’s event new Brazilian pairing, fourth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa overcame Canada’s 11th-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan 3-1 (21-14, 13-21, 15-13). Duda also took the individual award as the player of the tournament.

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