A year after winning the Itapema Open and reaching the top of the world rankings with former partner Evandro Goncalves, Brazil’s Andre Loyola is back at Meia Praia Beach with a new partner.
The 24-year-old blocker, now teamed with George Wanderley, made their returned to the International Volleyball Federation Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro.
Loyola and Wanderley earned a straight-set 21-19, 21-14 victory over Uruguay’s Marco Cairus and Mauricio Vieyto to advance to the 32-team main draw of the four-star tournament, which starts tomorrow.
"That’s beach volleyball,” said Loyola.
"It changes all the time and you need to be ready to handle it.
"When I first started playing in the World Tour I felt I made my way to the top very fast and now, one year after getting there, I’m playing in a qualifier again.
“Next tournament we’ll be in the main draw already and I hope we can stay there for a long time now.”
Fellow qualifiers Mexicans Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros were also making a comeback, having last played in the World Tour in July 2018.
They secured their main draw spot with a 21-15, 17-21, 15-4 win over Brazilians Luciano Ferreira and Jo Gomes.
“We’ve been out for a long time mostly because I had a knee surgery that hadn’t let me play this season so far,” Virgen said.
“So it feels good to be back.
"Starting from the bottom after a long break is tough, especially with the World Championships just one month away, but we don’t have any other options.”
Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho, Argentina’s Nicolas Capogrosso and Julian Azaad, France’s Olivier Barthelemy and Edouard Rowlandson, and Reid Priddy and Theo Brunner of the United States also qualified.
They were joined by Switzerland’s Quentin Metral and Yves Haussener and Ukraine's Iaroslav Gordieiev and Sergiy Popov.