2017-08-11 11:27:00 CEST
Meet the eight teams ready to fight for the title in the season finale
Olympic and newly crowned world champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst will return home to Hamburg as wildcards for the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone.
The German duo are one of four wildcards per gender to join the top eight teams who have already booked their place for the big season finale based on their ranking of points earned in tournaments over the past 12 months.
After an injury-hit season, the heroes from the Copacabana last year dropped out of the top eight but their epic triumph in Vienna brings them into contention for a repeat of the gold they won on home sand last season at the smart Major Hamburg.
Joining them are their World Championship final victims – Americans Lauren Fendrick and April Ross, who are also awarded a wildcard following their fine performance on the Danube Island that saw them win silver.
Rising Swiss stars, Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart will also head to Hamburg to end a season that has seen them win a bronze medal in Poreč and secure five top-10 finishes in eight tournaments.
Another super-consistent team heading to the Rothenbaum are Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley who have finished in the top 10 in all seven of their international tournaments so far in 2017.
Canada will also be represented in the men’s division, with Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk awarded a wildcard. The pair enjoyed an excellent World Championships – finishing fifth – beating eventual silver medalists Doppler/Horst in the pool play before knocking out Olympic champions Alison/Bruno in the last-16.
American entertainers Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner will also head to the Finals as wildcards, as will two teams from host nation Germany.
Sadly, that does not include Lars Flüggen. The 2016 Olympian is ruled out through injury, so his regular partner Markus Böckermann will partner Lorenz Schumann instead on the Rothenbaum sand.
The final spot reserved for the host nation goes to Jonathan Erdmann and Armin Dollinger. The duo have finished in the top 10 twice so far this season, including a fourth-place finish in the three-star event in Xiamen, China.
Women: Larissa/Talita (Brazil), Laboureur/Sude (Germany), Pavan/Humana-Paredes (Canada), Agatha/Duda (Brazil), Hermannová/Sluková (Czech Republic), Heidrich/Verge-Dépré (Switzerland), Kolocova/Kvapilova (Czech Republic), Sweat/Summer (USA), Ludwig/Walkenhorst (Germany), Ross/Fendrick (USA), Bansley/Wilkerson (Canada), Hüberli/Betschart (Switzerland).
Men: Dalhausser/Lucena (USA), Evandro/Andre (Brazil), Kantor/Losiak (Poland), Krasilnikov/Liamin (Russia), Alvaro Filho/Saymon (Brazil), Lupo/Nicolai (Italy), Doppler/Horst (Austria), Herrera/Gavira (Spain), Erdmann/Dollinger (Germany), Böckermann/Schumann (Germany), Saxton/Schalk (Canada), Brunner/Patterson (USA).
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Canadian wildcard Ben Saxton writes exclusively ahead of the World Tour Finals
Our guide to the 12 teams battling it out for glory in Germany