Las Vegas — that’s the goal.
Pro beach volleyball standouts Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer, both of the Netherlands, eliminated the American duo of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson 21-11, 25-27, 15-13 in one of the highlights of Friday’s action at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
The win for the 2013 FIVB world champions put them through to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will face another Netherlands duo — Christiaan Varenhorst and Reinder Nummerdor.
Winners of Sunday’s men’s and women’s finals will each split $100,000, the largest prize in the international history of the sport.
“We’ve made jokes,” Meeuwsen said of he and his teammate, “that if we win, we’re going straight to Vegas.”
Saturday’s other men’s quarterfinal matchup will pit Brazil’s Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti against Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo.
Already through to the semifinals are the two pool winners — Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, a Fort Lauderdale native, and Brazilians Pedro Solberg and Evandro Goncalves.
Those two pool winners will take on the winners of the teams that survive their quarterfinals.
On the women’s side, Saturday’s semifinals are set. Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca will take on Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley in the first women’s match of the day. That will be followed by Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas against Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.
Action on Saturday starts at 9 a.m., and admission is free. The courts are located at 1140 Seabreeze Blvd.
All four Brazilian teams that started the tournament are still alive. In contrast, three of the four American teams have been eliminated.
The American duo of Lauren Fendrick and April Ross lost to Pavan and Bansley 21-15, 21-16 in a quarterfinal match Friday.
As for Netherlands, the country is guaranteed to have one team in the men’s semifinals by virtue of the “double Dutch” quarterfinal pairing.
“It’s a tough tournament, but we have a lot of confidence,” Meeuwsen said. “It’s been really hot. We’re not really used to this weather. But I think everybody else has had the same problem.”
In addition to the possible big payday that comes with the winner’s check, Meeuwsen and Brouwer are using this tournament to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
The Dutch duo is not guaranteed a spot in the Olympics but are close.
“It would be hard for us to not qualify,” Brouwer said. “We’ve put up some good results and have a lot of points. I think we’re in really good shape.”