Beach Pro Tour - News

Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic rejoice in Coolangatta (source: Rogue Gun Photography)

Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic rejoice in Coolangatta (source: Rogue Gun Photography)

Australia’s Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic defended their Coolangatta crown from 2023 and repeated their success at the 2024 edition of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures event, making it three podiums in a row since the start of the season after also winning a Mollymook Futures gold and a Mount Maunganui Futures silver. Meanwhile, USA’s Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen continued their climb from the fourth place in Mollymook and the third place in Mount Maunganui to a second place in Coolangatta. Japan’s Suzuka Hashimoto & Reika Murakami completed the women’s podium.

Canada’s Jake MacNeil & Alexander Russell, who picked up the first-ever world-level medal for either of them with a Coolangatta Futures second place two years ago, had to wait for their return to Coolangatta to claim their second, and this time it was gold. They spoiled the host nation’s full triumph by leaving home favourites Paul Burnett & Jack Pearse with the silver. The bronze went to New Zealand’s Thomas Reid & John McManaway.

Third consecutive final for Fejes & Milutinovic

19-year-old Stefanie Fejes and 22-year-old Jana Milutinovic cruised to the semifinals on a perfect run of three straight-set victories. In the battle for a spot in the final, however, the top-seeded Australians lost the first set to fifth-seeded Suzuka Hashimoto & Reika Murakami. It was the only set they lost all tournament. Bouncing back to a 2-1 (18-21, 21-12, 15-8) turnaround, they advanced to their third Futures final in a row.

Unlike the previous event in New Zealand, where they conceded the gold to the top-seeded home team in the only match they have lost on the Beach Pro Tour this year, Fejes & Milutinovic delivered an emphatic 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) sweep of the gold medal match against fourth-seeded Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen to retain the Coolangatta title from last year and delight the home fans in Australia.

After winning their three matches on the way to the semis, 25-year-old Americans Chacon & Whalen secured an upgrade from the first Tour podium they earned with the Mount Maunganui bronze by adding a fourth win to their streak in Coolangatta, a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-6) semifinal victory over 13th-seeded compatriots Delaney Peranich & Maya Gessner, who made it to the main draw from the qualifiers.

Suzuka & Reika have been regular partners since 2021, but never made it to a Beach Pro Tour podium during the first two seasons of the competition. In 2024, however, they are already two in two after adding a Coolangatta bronze to the Mollymook silver from three weeks ago. In the third-place match, the Japanese pair produced a convincing 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) victory over Peranich & Gessner.

Coolangatta lucky for MacNeil & Russell again

Third-seeded Canadians Jake MacNeil & Alexander Russell started off their Coolangatta campaign with a defeat in their firs pool match, but then recovered with a five-game winning streak crowned by a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) semifinal victory over second-seeded New Zealanders Thomas Reid & John McManaway and a 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) sweep of the gold medal match against top-seeded Australians Paul Burnett & Jack Pearse.

Triumphant MacNeil & Russell (source: Rogue Gun Photography)

Triumphant MacNeil & Russell (source: Rogue Gun Photography)

27-year-old MacNeil and 30-year-old Russell are in their third Beach Pro Tour season and this was the second time they claimed a medal and the first time they topped the podium. Their first medal, a silver, was also achieved in Coolangatta at the inaugural Futures event in 2021.

Burnett & Pearse cruised to the final without dropping a single set in the four matches played, but fell just short of adding the men’s gold to the women’s trophy Fejes & Milutinovic had put on Australia’s plate earlier on Sunday. However, by mastering a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) semifinal victory over ninth-seeded Netitorn Muneekul & Wachirawit Muadpha of Thailand, the Aussies secured their third consecutive final on the Tour. At their previous two appearances, Burnett & Pearse claimed a Geelong Futures gold in November and a Mollymook silver earlier this month, which means that every time the two have participated on the Tour as a pair they have reached the final.

The Thai duo forfeited the third-place game and the bronze went to Reid & McManaway for their third Beach Pro Tour podium, after the Futures silvers from Qidong and Geelong last year.

28 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams representing 10 different countries took part in the Coolangatta Futures. The next two Futures events will be held in Pirae Tahiti, French Polynesia – a men’s tournament from April 2 to 6 and a women’s tournament from April 9 to 12.