Beach Ferns win gold, O'Dea brothers settle for silver

The New Zealand teams were in the medals in the Beach Pro Tour Futures Mount Maunganui 2023, with Beach Ferns Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley taking gold before hopping on a plane to Mexico for the Elite 16's event.

The O’Dea brothers fought hard, but experienced Chinese pair Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu were too strong, winning the final and gold in two sets.

"This tournament's been up and down for us, some really good and some patchy bits, but the final was definitely super strong for us," said Alice Zeimann.

"We did a good job of sticking to our game plan, coming out really aggressive and swinging on lots of balls, really strong serves and it paid off," said Shaunna Polley.

The Ferns looked assured from the start, taking an 9-4 lead with a pair of Polley spikes, with MacDonald and Tilley fighting hard, but taking some time to dial in their accuracy.

Roared on by family and friends, Zeimann made a big block to get out to 17-11, and followed up with a massive serve to prove the point.

MacDonald saved a set point with a big block of her own, before Polley sealed the first set 21-14 with a subtle finish.

Zeimann and Polley started the second set with four unanswered points, and kept the pressure on, building up a 14-7 lead midway through the second set.

MacDonald made a soft touch to drag a point back at 16-8, but Zeimann answered back straight away, finding open sand with a drive after a long rally, then blocked MacDonald at the net to go to 19-8.

MacDonald and Tilley saved four match points, but it was Zeimann who had the honour of hitting the final point, taking the second set and gold medal 21-12.

Mount locals Sam and Ben O'Dea played against China's Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu all around the world on the tour, but never on home sand - but despite a strong showing, the O'Deas were unable to take the gold.

"We've played against those guys for five or six years now, sometimes we do well, sometimes we don't, but usually it's a pretty close game. That's the kind of game we should be able to get up for, but for some reason it didn't happen," said Ben O'Dea.

After a point for point start, the locals took a 7-5 lead with a Sam O'Dea spike, then got to 8-6 with a big block by Ben.

The O'Deas used a mix of subtle touches like drop serves and their power at the net against the height of Likejiang and Jiaxin.

China put a run of points together, pulling away to 17-12, silencing the home fans. Ben made a massive dig and spike to pull one back and start a fightback, but Ha and Wu were able to hold on, taking the first set 21-17.

The O'Deas came out firing in the second, with Sam finding his spike range and Ben making desperate digs and drop shots to get the crowd going.

Sam made a line drive to get back to 17-12, but Likejiang and Jiaxin's lead was too great, taking control to close the set out 21-13 and take the match.

  • Women’s Final: Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann defeated Olivia MacDonald and Julia Tilley 2-0 (21-14, 21-12)
  • Men’s Final: Likejiang Ha / Jiaxin Wu defeated Ben and Sam O’Dea 2-0 (21-17 and 21-13)

All photos courtesy @Phototek

Four kiwi teams in semi finals

Sam and Ben O’Dea are looking to put on a show against fellow kiwis Tom Hartles and Tom Heijs in Sunday’s first semi final at Mount Maunganui main beach. With two NZ men’s teams going head to head, one is guaranteed to make the men’s final at 2pm on Sunday.

The women’s semi finals are an all-New Zealand and Canada affair, with Beach Ferns Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann playing eighth seeded Canadians Shanice Marcelle and Lea Monkhouse in their semi final at 11am Sunday, following an assured win against French team Manon Rebuffel and Mélody Benhamou 21-13 and 21-19.

Olivia MacDonald and Julia Tilley will play fourth seeds Darby Dunn and Olivia Grace Furlan after beating fellow kiwis Rosa Vesty and Kiana Stevenson 21-18 and 21-7 in their quarter final.  

In a mixed day for the NZ men, Hartles and Heijs upset the Japanese pair of Kai Kurokawa and Kosuke Fukushima, seeded five spots above the North Shore team, 21-16 and 23-21 to secure their spot in the semi finals.

The O’Dea brothers await, who beat the strong Australian team of James Takken and Solomon Bushby 25-27, 21-19 and 15-10 in a hard fought three setter.

"Going into the third set of the quarterfinal, I think we were both a little bit tired," said Ben O'Dea. 

"But that was kind of expected, because obviously we haven't trained as much as what we have in previous years, it's always a bit of a battle for us. It becomes a real mental battle once you become tired, but we were sitting down and just said 'Hey, we got fifteen more points here.'"

"Something we haven't done so well over the last three weekends is bouncing back in those third sets, so we just gave it everything, you can be tired later on, because it's only one game today."

"We knew we had experience over them too, when you're a younger team and these like slightly bigger tournaments, the occasion can get to you a little bit - Sam and I've been in these situations a lot, so we kind of knew that as long as we keep the pressure on, that they might fade a little bit."

“We just went out to play hard, I think if we're having fun, we're playing good. The first tournament we played a couple of weekends ago, we had a lot of fun and I don't know what it was but I think maybe it was a little bit too much expectation after winning a few in a row there, and we stopped having fun.” 

“The plan for tomorrow? This is the semi final of a World Tour tournament, we've kind of been here before, it's on our home beach and family is watching, so it's a really good opportunity for us to have some fun and put on a little bit of a show,” said Ben O’Dea.   

Unfortunately for the Mount fans, Brad Fuller and Alani Nicklin dipped out to second seeded Chinese duo Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu 21-18 and 21-18, while locals Jack McManaway and Tom Reid lost to American pair David McKienzie and Benjamin Vaught, who they’ve battled all summer on the 2023 G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top, 21-15 and 21-19.  

Beach Pro Tour Futures Mount Maunganui 2023

Finals day

All court one, Mount Maunganui main beach | 19 March 2023 

  • Men’s semi finals: 9am and 10am
  • Women’s semi finals: 11am and 12pm
  • Men’s third place match: 1pm
  • Men’s final: 2pm
  • Women’s third place match: 3pm
  • Women’s final: 4pm

Kiwi advance into Futures main draw

Four New Zealand combinations have reached the main draw of the first-ever Beach Volleyball Pro Tour Futures event held in New Zealand in Mt Maunganui.

After Thursday’s qualifying event, second-seeded Kiwi women Meile Rose Green and Maria Hanabadi progressed straight through to the main draw along with Australian top-seeded duo Kayla Mears and Tara Phillips.

In the afternoon battle for the remaining two spots in the main draw, former World Tour player Anna Harrison and Holly Isherwood grabbed their place courtesy of a come-from-behind, three-set victory (18-21, 21-19, 15-9) over Americans Logan Beitler and Jessica McGuire.

Susan Imhasly and Melissa Ruru then joined Harrison and Isherwood in the main draw, winning their own tight three-set encounter with fellow Kiwis Sydney Clough and Ariane Pola 21-14, 11-21, 15-13.

Thursday’s results ensure six New Zealand teams will contest the women’s main draw in the 16-team event, headlined by Asian Champions and number one seeds Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley.


Meanwhile, six Kiwi men’s teams started the day looking to qualify for one of the four remaining places Friday’s main draw of the competition.

Juraj Krajci and Calum Stewart cleared their first hurdle in an all-New Zealand match-up to open the tournament on Court 1, seeing off James Sadlier and Kyle Smith in tight three-set contest 21-15, 19-21, 15-11.

But their afternoon clash against the number one-seeded Australian pair of Matthew Abela and Christopher Blake proved a step too far, the young Kiwis falling 21-9, 21-12.

That result left 11th-seeded Campbell Forsyth and Greg Vukets as the last Kiwis in the qualifying draw in late afternoon matches having seen off fellow Kiwis Charlie Dalton and Mike Watson 21-11, 21-16 in the morning.

And the Kiwis delivered, downing the fourth-seeded Australians D’Artagnan Potts and Kaia Clarkin 23-21, 21-18 to advance into the main draw.

Forsyth and Vukets become the fifth New Zealand combination in the 16-team main draw with third-seeded Ben and Sam O’Dea topping the Kiwi entry list.

Earlier on Thursday, qualifying seventh-seed Kiwis Giles Black and Joshua Tiplady were sent out by American 10th seeds Ben Vaught and David McKenzie, losing 21-19, 21-15. Vaught and McKenzie, who qualified for the main draw with a second victory in the afternoon, were finalists at the Auckland stop of the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top in late February.

Tyran Gillespie and Perry Preston were beaten at the first hurdle by Japanese pair Ryo Shindo and Ryota Oda (21-13, 21-16) who eventually qualified for the main draw.

For full qualifying results from Thursday and all tournament information, click here.

Beach Pro Tour – Futures
Mt Maunganui Main Beach
March 16-19, 2023

Kiwis in action

Qualifying – Thursday 16 March, 2023
(NZ teams in bold, seeding in brackets)

Women’s – Round 2

  • Anna Harrison/Holly Isherwood (3) bt Logan Beitler/Jessica McGuire (USA) (6) - 18-21, 21-19, 15-9
  • Susan Imhasly/Melissa Ruru (4) bt Sydney Clough/Ariane Pola (5) - 14-21, 21-11, 15-13

Men’s - Preliminary Rd

  • Juraj Krajci/Calum Stewart (10) bt James Sadlier/Kyle Smith (9) – 21-15, 19-21, 15-11
  • Ryo Shindo/Ryota Oda (JPN) (4) bt Tyran Gillespie/Perry Preston (13) – 21-13, 21-16
  • Ben Vaught/Dave McKenzie (USA) (10) bt Joshua Tiplady/Giles Black (7) 21-19, 21-15
  • Campbell Forsyth/Greg Vukets (11) bt Charlie Dalton/Mike Watson (6) – 21-11, 21-16

Men’s - Round 2

  • Matthew Abela/Christopher Blake (AUS) (1) bt Juraj Krajci/Calum Stewart (10) – 21-9, 21-12

  • Campbell Forsyth/Greg Vukets (11) bt D’Artagnan Potts/Kaia Clarkin (AUS) (3) – 23-21, 21-18

Photos courtesy 

Strong start for kiwis at Beach Pro Tour Futures

Kiwi teams top all four pools of the men’s competition, claiming some big scalps in a strong international field at Mount Maunganui main beach today, and are poised go to deep in tomorrow’s quarter finals.

Beach Pro Tour Futures schedule

Beach Pro Tour Futures seeds

Beach Pro Tour Futures pools 

GJ Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top men’s champions Tom Reid and Jack McManaway took down second seeds Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu in three sets, while Brad Fuller and Alani Nicklin beat Australian fourth seeds James Takken and Solomon Bushby comfortably 21-12 and 21-17.

Tom Hartles and Tom Heijs beat third seeds Zhuoxin Li and Tao Xue from China 21-14 and 21-14, while Sam and Ben O’Dea weren’t troubled in both their games.

On the women’s side, the New Zealand teams are also well placed with Beach Ferns Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann top their pool with two wins out of two, as do Olivia MacDonald and Julia Tilley, who beat the second seed Australian pair of Jasmine Fleming and Georgia Johnson 21-11 and 21-17.

Rosa Vesty and Kiana Stevenson also upset fifth seeds Miharu Kashihara and Harumi Sakai 15-21, 21-10 and 14-16 in another strong result.

“We’re just focused on ourselves and our game, controlling what we can control in the wind, with good serving,” said Shanna Polley.

“It's so cool seeing all the international teams playing and walking around here at the Mount,” said Alice Zeimann.

All the kiwis teams will be in action in Saturday quarter finals day at the Mount main beach with the action starting from 9am, with semis and finals scheduled for Sunday.

Kiwis set for world beach test

Some of the best beach volleyball New Zealand has ever seen comes to Mount Maunganui Main Beach from Thursday with the first-ever World Beach Pro Tour event held in this country.

The Beach Pro Tour Futures event includes teams from around the world seeking points to climb the international rankings with combinations from China, Japan, Australia, USA, Germany, Scotland, Canada, Sweden, and France represented among those on the entry list.

Among the big international contingent, 18 Kiwi teams are set to feature across the men’s and women’s events which begins with Thursday’s qualifying draw. Four teams progress from the qualifying phase into the 16-team pool play main draw which starts on Friday.

On the women’s side, New Zealand’s number one combination of Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann – fresh off their domestic summer as G.J Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour champions, go into the Futures event as the number one seeds on their own sand. The Asian Champion duo are currently ranked at 41 in the world.

Olivia Macdonald teams up with Julia Tilley for the Futures event and the Kiwi pair are seeded eighth while Katie Sadlier and Charlie Clarke are ninth, with NZ Junior Indoor captain Rosa Vesty and Kiana Stevenson – named on Tuesday as the Young Women’s Player of the Year from the domestic season – seeded 10th.

In the men’s competition, family duo Sam O’Dea and Ben O’Dea team up together as third seeds for the inaugural Beach Pro Tour event on their home beach while New Zealand Open champions Brad Fuller and Alani Nicklin are seeded fifth.

Fresh from their domestic tour champions title – Tom Reid and Jack McManaway are seeded ninth while Tom Hartles and Tom Heijs round out the Kiwis already in the main draw as the 11th seeded combination.

Ranked at 75 in the world, the Chinese pair of Likejian Ha and Jiaxin Wu are the top-seeds in the men’s competition.

New Zealand High Performance Coach Jason Lochhead, himself a former player on the world circuit, says the Beach Pro Tour event will be a great measuring stick for New Zealand’s best talent.

“Hosting a world tour event here in New Zealand is a great opportunity for our players to test themselves against international teams and see where they sit,” Lochhead said.

“Then they will know if they are ready to take on the world and understand areas where they can improve.”

Click here for all the event entry list and draw information (Volleyball World website).

Beach Pro Tour – Futures
Mt Maunganui Main Beach
March 16-19, 2023

Kiwis in action

Qualifying – Thursday 16 March
(seeding in brackets)


  • Meile Rose Green/Maria Hanabadi (2)
  • Anna Harrison/Holly Isherwood (3)
  • Susan Imhasly/Melissa Ruru (4)
  • Sydney Clough/Ariane Pola (5)


  • Charlie Dalton/Mike Watson (7)
  • Joshua Tiplady/Giles Black (8)
  • James Sadlier/Kyle Smith (9)
  • Juraj Krajci/Callum Stewart (10)
  • Campbell Forsyth/Greg Vukets (11)
  • Tyran Gillespie/Perry Preston (13)

Main Draw – from Friday 17 March
(Seeding in brackets)


  • Alice Zeimann/Shaunna Polley (1)
  • Oliva Macdonald/Julia Tilley (8)
  • Katie Sadlier/Charlie Clarke (9)
  • Rosa Vesty/Kiana Stevenson (10)


  • Sam O’Dea/Ben O’Dea (3)
  • Brad Fuller/Alani Nicklin (5)
  • Tom Reid/Jack McManaway (9)
  • Tom Hartles/Tom Heijs (11)