Roi Et, Thailand, November 11, 2023 – Promising Yan Xu/Zhou Mingli sealed two wins on the trot on Saturday to script an unprecedented milestone securing China’s first-ever semifinals berth in the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in front of the picturesque Roi Et Tower in this northeastern province of Thailand.
Since the championships inception in 2001 in Le Lavandou, France, Australia emerged as the only Asian nation to claim medals in the topflight competition, with Becchara Palmer/Alice Rohkamper picking up silver in 2007 in Modena, Italy and Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy claiming bronze in 2012 in Halifax, Canada.
With the 19-year-old Yan and 18-year-old Zhou through to the Sunday morning’s do-or-die semifinals, the Chinese women’s pair became the lone Asian team to escape some sort of career setback in the six-day event in Roi Et.
Yan Xu and Zhou Mingli started their Beach Pro Tour debut in Wenzhou Cangnan Futures in China last August as the top-seeded team in the qualification bracket and went on to claim bronze aside from netting gold in the 2023 World Beach Pro Tour Futures in Qidong, China in the same month.
The Chinese duo got their Saturday campaign off to a victorious start following a comfortable 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) win in a Round of 16 encounter against home hopefuls Patcharaporn Seehawong/Suchinna Choemphun. Last July here in Roi Et, Patcharaporn teamed up with Jidapa Bunongkhun to clinch silver in the Asian U21 Championship at Ban Nongyama School.
Yan and Zhou maintained their remarkable consistency later in the afternoon’s quarterfinal clash against Eva Liisa Kuivonen/Liisa-Lotta Jurgenson, who came in 9th position in the 2023 European U22 Championships. The Chinese quickly got themselves into a comfortable position and prevailed over the Estonians in two sets 21-16, 21-16.
The Chinese duo booked a spot in the Sunday’s semifinals, where they will go up against Switzerland’s 18-year-old rising star Leona Kernen and Annique Niederhauser. Kernen had claimed bronze at the previous edition of the U21 World Championship two years ago in Phuket, as well as the U18 European title that year and a U20 continental silver this year,
The Swiss pairing, who secured silver at 2023 World Tour Futures Baden in Austria and 4th place at World Tour Futures Leuven in Belgium on the same year, managed a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) shutout of Canadians Ruby Sorra/Emma Glagau, bronze medallists at the 2022 FIVB U19 World…