World Championships in sights

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Sydney University Volleyball Club member and BComm BLaws student Izac Carracher continued his push for selection in the Australian squad for the 2022 World Championships to be held in Rome in June with some sterling performances over the past two weekends.

The Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness Elite Athlete Program member and his partner Mark Nicolaidis backed up a gold medal performance at the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour two weeks ago to claim a straight sets win at the World Beach Pro Tour Futures event on the Gold Coast at the weekend. They defeated the Canadian duo of Jake MacNeil and Alex Russel 2:0 (21-11, 21-16) to claim the title.

Carracher and Nicolaidis announced their intentions in late February when they set the 2022 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour alight with a win over the tour leaders at Mollymook. Coming in as the third seeds, they accounted for tour leaders Chris McHugh, a 2020 Tokyo Olympian, and Paul Burnett 2-0 (21-15, 24-22).

While McHugh and Burnett are favoured to be the Australian pairing at Rome, the efforts of Carracher and Nicolaidis over the past month could see them selected as Australia’s second team for the World Championships.

Having met the Canadians earlier in the competition, the Aussies claimed victory in their first meeting and then made their way through the draw undefeated. Nicolaidis started the final for the Aussies, scoring a commanding opening point that set them up. “We’ve been working really hard back in South Australia and doing all the work in the lead up to make sure we can put together tournament after tournament,” Nicolaidis said. “It’s really rewarding to see some of that progress that we’ve been able to make over the past few months pay off.”

The duo have had several quarter-final and semi-final attempts over the years with different partners, but this year marks their first full season as teammates – a partnership that’s clearly working

“It’s awesome, we’ve been grinding the tour for a few years,” Carracher said. “To come up against a talented side and to get the win is an awesome achievement, we’re stoked and couldn’t be happier. We’ve been trying to play together for a few years now but Covid seemed to be doing us dirty, so it’s been good to have the opportunity to come out this year, have a good preparation and really get some results under our belt is awesome.”

Carracher said the Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028 are in their sights as well as World Championships each year. The pair have been based in Adelaide since the start of the year preparing for the season. That has posed a few hurdles for Carracher, who is in the final semester of his finance degree and the third year of a law degree.

“Being on the SUSF Elite Athletes Program has really helped, particularly organising to get assignments in on time and assisting with travel to events here and overseas,” he said. “Speaking with other athletes from other Australian universities, there doesn’t seem to be anything like Sydney Uni’s EAP.”