Ten of Australia’s most promising young beach volleyballers will get their chance to compete on the world stage after being selected for the U21 World Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games later this year.
Teenagers Rebecca Ingram, Carrie Van Rensburg, Mark Nicolaidis and James Takken will join more than 1300 athletes from 70 Commonwealth countries in the Bahamas between July 19 and 23.
And Asian U21 champions Paul Burnett and Marcus Ferguson will be joined by Justin Schumann and Mitchell Wakefield, along with Caitlin Bettenay and Sabine Mills at the U21 World Championships in Nanjing, China, next month.
Burnett and Ferguson will go straight into the main draw following their triumph in Thailand earlier this year, while Bettenay, a member of the Australian women’s indoor team last year, and Mills have also qualified for the main draw.
Schumann and Wakefield finished fifth at the Asian Championships and will need to win their way into the main draw of the World Championships through qualifying.
The two teams heading to The Bahamas will be taking strong domestic form with them.
Victorians’ Ingram and Van Rensburg teamed up to win the last two Australian Junior Beach Volleyball titles, and the pair also represented Australia, with different partners, at this year’s U21 Asian Volleyball Championships.
Nicolaidis, a Queensland Academy of Sport scholarship holder, has won numerous Australian junior beach volleyball titles, and this year became the youngest ever winner of a Queensland State Beach tour final.
Takken was a member of the Australian men’s indoor team at the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup in Thailand last year.
The boys’ team will be coached by Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medallist, Kerri Pottharst, while the girls’ team will be coached by Mandy Combes.