Esphino, Portugal July 23-27 2003
PORTUGAL'S ATLANTIC STOP FOR WORLD TOUR
Esphino has long been renowned for its vast, sun-kissed beaches and wonderful selection of seafood restaurants, but over the past few years this popular holiday town in Aveiro province has also developed a reputation as a fantastic venue for the Beach Volleyball World Tour.
This season, the world's finest men volleyballers will once again return to this former fishing village - located 30 kms south of Porto on the Atlantic coast - for the $150,000 Men's Portuguese Open.
With Portugal's strong historic connections with Brazil, local beach fans naturally get behind the Brazilian teams and last season they were not disappointed as two of the four semi-finalists were from the former Portuguese colony.
But it was the American duo of Wong-Metzger that snatched the gold medal at the packed Praia De Baja venue, coming from a set down to defeat Brazil's Marcio Araujo-Benjamin 17-21, 24-22, 15-12 in a thrilling final.
Their victory also ended a run of 14 consecutive victories for the dominant South American teams on the men's World Tour. Saving three match points in the match was a testament to the American's fighting spirit as they were forced to dig deep and
draw on all their reserves of energy before securing only their second victory in a major beach volleyball event.
"Their service pressure was too much for us at first," said Metzger after receiving the gold medal in front of 5,000 fans. "But fortunately they couldn't keep the pressure going and Kevin (Wong) started to handle their service much better.
"South Americans have taken over the leading role in beach volleyball - which is no problem because we love them - but I think it is now time for the US teams to do well."
Wong-Metzger reached the final after defeating defending champions Ricardo-Loiola in the semi-finals, but the Brazilian pair made amends with a 22-20, 21-20 victory over Argentina's Baracetti-Conde - the 2002 World Tour champions - in the third-fourth place playoff.
Following the Portuguese Open, the men's World Tour moves on to Klagenfurt for the $300,000 Austria Grand Slam.
1. Wong-Metzger (USA)
2. Marcio Araujo-Benjamin (BRA)
Araujo Biography Profile
Insfran Biography - Profile
3. Ricardo-Loiola (BRA)
Costa Santos Biography
Geraldo Loiola / Profile