2015-09-28 09:00:00 CEST
Athletes from all of the world arrived in Fort Lauderdale as the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals Center Court undergoes finishing touches on the sands of South Beach Park.
Players from Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands touched down in Florida during the weekend, joining athletes from Spain, Austria, Brazil and Italy ready to compete at the Swatch World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.
There is no rest for these world travelers as this season has been a wild scramble for points and finishes. All teams on the World Tour are working furiously to earn births into the much anticipated 2016 Rio Olympics and cannot afford to miss an important step toward qualification.
“The schedule of international professional beach volleyball is very difficult," said USA's Casey Patterson. “All of us compete on the FIVB World Tour as well as domestically in our own countries. Traveling long distances every week, keeping up with training and competing at such a high level are a tall order for any athlete.” For the American wildcard teams of Emily Day/Jen Kessy and Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena a 20 hour flight across the Pacific Ocean was underway just last night - as both teams competed in China at the Xiamen Open. Phil and Nick may not mind the long travel day as they both have a shiny new gold medal in their carry-on.
Fifteen stops on the 2015 FIVB World Tour (16 for the women) have all lead to this - The Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals. So the question is, how much is left in the tank? Who has what it takes to battle through all the elements, the exhaustion, the injuries, the sore muscles and the wear-and-tear of international travel? The world is watching to find out with competition starting already tomorrow! First balls will be served at 10AM ET on Tuesday, Sept 29th and the field is divided into two pools of five teams. They will compete in round-robin play on two courts Tuesday through Friday. Then the top three teams in each pool will play in single-elimination knockout rounds. The two winners advance to the semifinals and the remaining four teams battle it out from the quarterfinals all the way to the gold medal match.
In addition to the honor of claiming the 2015 Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals title, the financial motivation is strong with $100,000 on the line for both the men’s and women’s champion. The stakes have never been higher and the prize has never been sweeter. The Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals is the finale to the season that every beach volleyball athlete and every fan has been waiting for.