By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Last weekend was momentous for Brazilian beach volleyball double Juliana and Larissa. The duo claimed gold at the Barcelona Open and won the World Tour title, scoring points which left the other Brazilian duo Talita and Maria Elisa trailing behind.
The result put them 400 points ahead in the table (7,360 against 6,960), and with just two events left in the World Tour, they can no longer be outranked in the championship race.
The gold medal match took place between Juliana/Larissa and Talita/Maria Elisa on Sunday, September 13. Juliana and Larissa came out on top, winning the match by two sets to zero (21-17 and 28-26).
It was the fourth World Tour title for Larissa and Juliana, but this year’s conquest is a special one, as last season Juliana suffered a severe knee injury that kept her out of action for 291 days. Because of that, she couldn’t compete in the Beijing Olympics or the World Tour. Many thought her career was over, but in every World Tour event of this season she proved them wrong, and the victory in Barcelona was all the sweeter.
“It has been a week full of emotions, as we are back to the top after a very tough period,” said Juliana, referring to the knee injury. “The most important result of the weekend was the World Tour title. To win eight stops of the tour in the same season means we were able to play very competitively against the world’s best doubles week after week.” Juliana was elected the best player of the Barcelona Open.
Never before in the Beach Volleyball World Tour history has a double won eight matches in the same season. The competition has sixteen rounds and so far, fourteen had been played. Twelve were won by Brazilians.
Juliana and Larissa were champions in eight events: the Brazil, Russia, Austria, Japan, Poland, Finland and Netherlands Opens. Talita and Maria Elisa won four: the China, Korea, Switzerland and Norway Opens. The other two events played so far were won by the American double Jen Kessy and April Ross: The World Championships (also in Norway) and the Austria Open.
“The event in Barcelona was very tough. To be champion after the surgery that Juliana went through is amazing,” says Larissa.
The bronze medal was claimed by US double Jen Kessy and April Ross, the current World Champions who defeated fellow Americans Angie Akers and Tyra Turner by two sets to zero (21-13 and 21-19).
The Barcelona Open was the fourteenth stop of this year’s World Tour. The two last events of the season are in China, from October 27 to November 1, and in Thailand, from November 3 to 8.