American pairs Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson and April Ross and Lauren Fendrick are in after the FIVB announced the eight wild cards that complete the field of 24 teams for the Swatch World Tour Finals in Hamburg.
They joined Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat, who were already in the field.
The August 23-27 season-ending event has three pools of four followed by single-elimination playoffs.
The other wild cards include three pairs from Germany, the host country: Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, Markus Bockermann and Lorenz Schumann, and Jonathan Erdmann and Armin Dollinger. Canada got two in Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley and Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton, while Switzerland’s Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart also made the field.
Ludwig and Walkenhorst, who live and train in Hamburg, were a lock for the wild card after taking gold medals in the 2016 Olympics as well as the recent FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna. Their participation was limited this year by shoulder injuries to both partners, but have shown that they are the team to beat.
Bockermann, who participated in the 2016 Olympics with Lars Fluggen, will play with Schumann due to injury. Bockermann and Fluggen shocked the FIVB Olstzyn field by coming out of the qualifier to win gold earlier this summer.
Erdmann and Dollinger had a best finish this year of fourth in Xiamen.
April Ross and partner Lauren Fendrick got a wild card entry to Hamburg/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Ross and Fendrick are full of confidence making it to the final in Vienna, with Ross’s toe injury apparently behind her.
Casey Patterson and partner Theo Brunner were selected as wild cards for the World Tour finals/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Countrymen Patterson and Brunner finished a disappointing 17th in Vienna after a tough three set 21-18, 19-21, 10-15 loss to Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst, who ended up with silver. Patterson and Brunner finished fourth twice this year, at FIVB Rio and at the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to compete against the best in the world,” Brunner said. “And thanks to Casey for being fun to watch and always engaging with fans at the Major Series events, I believe it was integral in securing us the wild card over many other deserving teams.”
Canada’s Wilkerson and Bansley are coming off a season-best finish of fifth in Vienna. They are one of the new teams of 2017 and have demonstrated remarkable consistency, with five ninth-place finishes.
Saxton and Schalk also finished fifth at Worlds for Canada, with a remarkable upset of Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt in a tight three set 21-19, 19-21, 15-13 win. Their other 2017 results have been subpar, with two 17ths and three 25ths.
Switzerland’s Huberli and Betschart took bronze at FIVB Porec. The remainder of their 2017 resume is four ninths, two 17th-place finishes and a 25th.
The previously announced field, consisting of the top eight ranked teams over the last 12 months, includes Dalhausser and Lucena, Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola and Alvaro Filho and Saymon Barbosa, Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin, Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, Austria’s Doppler and Horst, and Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira.
For the women, the group includes Ross and Sweat, Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes and Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Duda, Germany’s Chantal Laboreu and Julia Sude, Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova, and Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre.
Notably, Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt will not be participating in Hamburg. Unfortunately for the reigning Olympic gold medalists, wild cards are awarded to a maximum of two teams per country, and Goncalves/Loyola and Filho/Barbosa both finished ahead of them in the world rankings.
Cerutti and Schmidt have had a disappointing 2017 after winning gold in FIVB Rio. They got a bronze in Porec, fifths in Fort Lauderdale and Moscow to add to three ninth-place finishes.