t was a very memorable evening for the beach volleyball community and the local fans of Qatar, as the first ever King of the Court Finals in Doha came to an end. The day started with some very competitive action in the men’s and women’s qualification round, with only one round of 15 minutes and the top scorer going through to the evening’s finals. It was always going to be a race against time.
There were clear victories for Stefan Boermans & Yorick De Groot and Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova, a newly formed pair from the Czech Republic. This would set up mouth watering finals to see who would be crowned The Kings and Queens of Doha as a packed crowd filled the Aspire Academy.
The Women’s Final was contested by five teams, three representing their home countries and two teams that had pairs made of mixed nationalities. The opening round saw the team that had qualified last, leave the competition first, Hermannova and Stochlova were still warm from their qualification but admitted themselves that they didn’t take their chances.
The next round was another frantic 15 minutes as teams looked to lock in a place in the final three. The German/Lithuanian pairing of Chantal Laboureur and Gerda Grudzinskaite were put together in the very last preparations for the competition and performed incredibly well to take fourth place in the competitions, just missing out on the finals.
This left a final round battle for the crown between experienced King of the Court pairing Alexia Richard and Lézana Placette from France, who were competing in their first ever final. A new German pairing in Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider playing in their first competition together, Schneider placed 3rd in Hamburg with former partner Victoria Bieneck, the final was completed with Latvian Anastasia Kravcenoka playing with King of the Court newcomer Phoebe Bell from Australia.
It was the German pairing that topped with a fantastic run of points at the queens end in a final three that included some major rallies, some great two and three touch play to seal their first title in a short partnership. The French duo sealed second place and the Longest Stay award for the competition. The Latvian and Australian couple took third place on the podium.
The mens final consisted of some the world’s best teams. Ahmed Tijan and Cherif Younnousse are the current number 1 in the world and host nation Qatar. They made history by winning the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Although their last outing in Utrecht 2020 ended very early, this was their first King of the Court final. They didn’t enter as favorites, as the World U21 Champions, Jonatan Hellvig and David Åhman looked to retain the crown they won in Utrecht after siding out 63 times in their semifinal victory.
Stefan Boermans and Yorick De Groot were in form having won the qualifier and Utrecht 2020 Champions Florian Breer and Marco Krattiger from Switzerland were playing in their first King of the Court since that victory. Krattiger took two second places in Hamburg and Utrecht in 2021 with Moritz Pristauz. There was more Swiss representation in Breer’s former partner Yves Haussener playing with Estonian Mart Tiisaar.
With such an open field and each team possessing world class qualities it was always going to be a final to remember, with no lack of service pressure or defensive plays. The first round was over in the blink of an eye and Haussener and Tiisaar were the first to leave. They had their opportunities and played some incredible volleyball, especially in their first and potentially only competition together.
The second round saw the end of the 2020 Champions, Krattiger and Breer. They themselves admitting they hadn’t quite ‘found their level’ but with Breer just coming back after time out, It was a fantastic result and performance.
The final was heating up and so were the crowd. Most of them supporting the hosts, Qatar, the form book favoriting the Swedes and the Dutch team of Boermans/De Groot coming off the back of their best season in World Tour Volleyball.
The Swedes struggled to find the form from the day before as the Netherlands grew through the final but neither in the end could reach the level of Qatar, with Ahmed Tijan siding out the lion’s share of the balls. Qatar reached 15 points with 21 seconds left on the clock to win their first ever King of the Court title.
- Isabel Schneider / Sandra Ittlinger (GER)
- Lézana Placette / Alexia Richard (FRA)
- Phoebe Bell / Anastasia Kravcenoka (AUS/LAT)
- Ahmed Tijan / Cherif Younesse (QAT)
- Yorick De Groot / Stefan Boermans (NED)
- David Åhman / Jonatan Hellvig (SWE)