Top-seeded Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar were the winners of the first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 tournament, which came to an end in the Mexican coastal city of Rosarito on Sunday.
The world ranking leaders played in a manner consistent with their status and gave no chance to Dutch veterans Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen in Sunday’s gold medal match at the Rosarito Beach, claiming the title with a straight-set (21-17, 21-15) victory.
In Rosarito, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists secured their third international title as partners and the second consecutively in Mexico, following their victory in the final tournament of the Cancun Hub on the 2021 FIVB World Tour. The Qataris now have 11 international beach volleyball medals to their names, with three golds, four silvers and four bronzes.
“It’s a great feeling to win the first Elite 16 tournament of the Beach Pro Tour,” Cherif said after the match. “This tournament was so hard, every match felt like a final and it had Olympic level. It was another opportunity to prove we're one of the best. Mexico has been bringing great luck to us as we made it to the final three times last year in Cancun and now here. Rosarito will be forever in my heart.”
The Qataris were in excellent form during the final in Rosarito and dominated the experienced Dutch, who are also Olympic bronze medallists, with Cherif’s athleticism at the net and Ahmed’s quickness in defence also exciting fans with their entertaining playing style.
“It was a tough tournament and a difficult week, but we kept on fighting,” Ahmed added. “If you want to win, you have to give it all and that’s what we did. It was a great experience playing against the best teams in the world. Now we return home, rest a bit and start preparing for our home Challenge event in Doha."
Reigning Olympic champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway also started the season with a podium appearance in Rosarito as the Norwegians rebounded from an inconsistent first set to defeat Polish Olympians Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak 2-1 (12-21, 21-17, 15-12) in the bronze medal match.
The Beach Volley Vikings have an admirable record in international events, having won 14 golds, two silvers and three bronzes in 36 tournaments as partners.
“We feel great,” Mol reacted. “There are so many great teams in the Elite 16 tournaments and making it to the semifinals makes us feel good. Winning a medal after being so far behind in the first set was incredible. We were in a really dark place but we managed to fight back and it feels really good.”
The Beach Pro Tour continues next week, with a Future event in Coolangatta, Australia, from March 30-April 3. The next Elite 16 tournament of the tour’s inaugural season will take place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, from May 25-29.