Australian Tour leaders Schumann and McHugh eye National title in Manly


 

Beach Volleyball will return to Sydney for the 2021 National Championships from 19-21 February, with the best players in the country facing off for the title of Australian Champions on the iconic Manly Beach.

The event also doubles up as the third leg of the 2021 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour (ABVT) after previous tournaments were held at Cobram, VIC in late January and Glenelg, SA in early February.

In the men’s Division 1 tournament, top-seeded Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh are dominating the ABVT and will try to make it three from three after taking titles at the Cobram-Barooga Classic and the Glenelg Open. They are the obvious favourites after dropping only one set to their opponents during their two winning campaigns.

#2-seed Max Guehrer and Zachary Schubert will be focused on upping their game and mount a strong challenge to the top step of the podium, something that has eluded them in the first two legs of the tour.

Despite having secured a second and a third place so far, the South Australians were not happy with their recent performance in Adelaide, when they came up short in the semi-finals and missed out on the chance for a replay of the Cobram-Barooga Classic gold medal match against Schumann/McHugh.

The biggest challenge to the favourites will come from reigning Australian National Champions, Paul Burnett and Marcus Ferguson, although the two players won’t be on the same team. The pair split up after winning the title last year, with Burnett now playing alongside Thomas Hodges and Ferguson teaming up with emerging talent Izac Carracher. The two teams currently train together under coach Mick Nelson, who said under the circumstances, strategy takes more of a back seat during the domestic season.

“On the National Tour, I leave the tactics to the athletes and just focus on making sure they put their best foot forward and grow their game. It makes for a really exciting and competitive training environment and it means they will have no surprises on the court”, he said.

Nelson added that the atmosphere on Manly Beach will be fantastic and everybody is excited about the National Championships.

“It’s a bit of the highlight of the summer for everyone,” Nelson said.

The Manly Beach Open starts on Friday at noon with the qualifications round. Competition will resume the next day from 8am, with the draw for Saturday’s competition released on Friday, following the qualification events.

Sunday’s program will commence with semifinal matches from 8am. Finals will follow from 11.30am onwards, with the following schedule:

  • Bronze Medal Games: 11:30am Women
  • Bronze Medal Games: 12:30 Men
  • Gold Medal Games: Women’s from 2pm
  • Gold Medal Games: Men’s from 3pm
  • Medal Presentations: from from 4pm

Fans will be able to watch the bronze medal matches on SBS On Demand from 11.30am and the gold medal matches on SBS One from 2pm.

To keep up to date with the rest of the weekend’s action, follow the ABVT Tour on social media at @AusBeachVolleyTour on Facebook, @Ausbvtour on Instagram and @ausvolley on Twitter.

The updated players’ seeding and tournament schedule are available on the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour website.