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CM.com King of the Court Utrecht 2021 starts with a bang

Utrecht, the Netherlands |

A day of upsets, spectacular plays and Kings returning to their kingdom of yesteryear, Utrecht’s first day of play had it all. The silver medalists in the women’s draw from last year, sister Emi and Mexime van Driel fell in the first round of their match, as another Dutch sister’s couple ran to victory. In the men’s tournament 2018 Kings of Utrecht Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira proved they are still a force to be reckoned with, even when faced with youngsters that play the quickest combinations.

In the first phase twenty teams will play matches in groups of five. The three teams that make it to the last round automatically qualify for the next phase. Teams ending in fourth place will move on to the playoff that will also see three teams progressing to the nest stage. Teams ending in fifth will have to wait and find out if they are staying in the tournament. Just one lucky loser will be allowed to also play in the playoff, three teams will be done after the first phase.

Women
The biggest upset of the first day might well be that Emi and Mexime van Driel were eliminated in the first round of their match. The silver medalists of last year couldn’t rack up the points as they did in 2020. They have a real slight chance of staying in the tournament, only one of the four teams ending in fifth place in the first phase progresses to the playoff round, together with all fourth ranked teams. Austria’s Katharina Schützenhöfer and Lena Plesiutschnig were eliminated in the second round.

The group also featured Canadian sisters Megan and Nicole McNamara and Dutch sisters Brecht and Emma Piersma. The latter surprised everyone, even European champions Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli. The golden ball (a wildcard to be used in the next round for replaying a point) went to the Dutch sisters.

The second match saw two teams that were in Hamburg’s final last Sunday up against each other. Germany’s Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider were faced with Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink from the Netherlands. The Dutch were eliminated in the second round and will have to play in the playoff on Thursday night. Before them Norway’s Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Ane Guro Tveit Hjortland had to leave the court as the fifth ranked team.

In the final round Bieneck and Schneider showed what they are capable of. With more than three minutes left on the clock they reached 15 points, leaving behind Esmee Böbner / Zoé Vergé-Dépré and Angela Lobato / Anja Dörfler with 6 and 4 points respectively.

Men
In the first match the Dutch Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde started slow, but as the rounds progressed their play went up a few levels. Varenhorst even playing the second ball over backwards on matchpoint, frivolous play from the Dutch blocker. They won both second and third round and have won the golden ball.

In the first round Norway’s Matthias Berntsen and Hendrik Mol failed to get any points and left the court fairly frustrated. In the second round the Lino King was eliminated, Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins just came up short. A big surprise was the Czech team of Vaclav Bercik and Jiri Sedlak, the 24 and 21-year-olds reached the final round where they battled with Sam Schachter and Alex Ranghieri. Both teams are through to the next stage.

The second men’s match featured some spectacular teams, with the Swedish youngsters David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig performing fast-paced plays with almost all jump sets. European silver medalists Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot were of world class once more, their blocking and defending is off the charts. But both young gun teams had to let Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira take the golden ball. The 2018 Kings of Utrecht proved once more they are the stable factor in beach volleyball.

In the first two rounds Utrecht had to say goodbye to the Spanish / Dutch duo of Alejandro Huerta and Ruben Penninga. The round after that Quentin Métral and Yves Haussener, who had won the previous round, were eliminated.

Check Wednesday’s scores here.

Thursday

The second day of CM.com King of the Court Utrecht 2021 promises to be a grand day as well. Four exciting matches to be played, ánd two gut wrenching playoffs where teams will fight in round of just five minutes. Tension will be high, you can’t miss it. We’ll start at 16.30 CEST, join us on YouTube or check your local broadcaster.