Acapulco, Mexico, October 24, 2006 - With Japan hosting the 30th FIVB World Congress this week in Tokyo, the Asian country had two men’s Beach Volleyball teams qualify here Tuesday for this week’s US$400,000 Corona Open on the Playa Tamarindos.
Sixth-seeded Koichi Nishimura/Satoshi Watanabe and eighth-seeded Kentaro Asahi/Katsuhiro Shiratori posted qualifying wins for Japan over teams from Norway and Netherlands, respectively, to advance to the 32-team men’s Main Draw that starts Wednesday on the Acapulco Bay courts.
Nishimura and Watanabe are playing in their second first SWATCH stop together after placing 25th at last month’s Brazilian event in Vitoria. Shiratori, who is competing internationally with Asahi for the first-time, posted a seventh with Nishimura earlier this season in Marseille for Japan’s best SWATCH finish in 15 years.
Six of the eight top-seeded qualifying teams gained spots in the men’s Corona Open “money” rounds led by top-seeded Alison Conte Cerutti and Harley Marques of Brazil. While Harley is a veteran of 59 international Beach Volleyball, Alison is playing in his second SWATCH event as he failed to qualify with his partner last month in Vitoria, Brazil.
Harley placed third in the 2005 Corona Open with Benjamin Insfran as Brazil netted all three Playa Tamarindos podium berths. Last year’s Acapulco Bay finalists return to defend their medals as Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos defeated Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto for the Corona gold medal.
Also advancing from the 18-team qualifier Tuesday to the Main Draw were teams for Austria, Canada, Georgia, Portugal and Venezuela for the season-ending 14th men’s event on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar as the Corona Open marks the end of the 20th-season of international men’s Beach Volleyball competition.
Posting Tuesday’s biggest upset was Jackson Henriquez of Igor Hernandez as the 12th-seeded Venezuelans ousted fifth-seeded Joao Brenha and Luis Maia of Portugal 21-18 and 21-15. The Portuguese are three-time Beach Volleyball Olympians with fourth-place finishes at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games in Atlanta and Sydney, respectively.
Other teams winning spots in the Corona Open Main Draw were second-seeded Jorge Terceiro/Renato Gomes of Georgia, third-seeded Florian Gosch/Alexander Horst of Austria, fourth-seeded Pedro Rosas/Jose Pedrosa of Portugal and 10th-seeded Wes Montgomery/Jason Kruger of Canada.
Mexico will have three teams in the men’s Main Draw as the host country stages a double gender SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop for the fourth-time, including the first qualifying event for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on the Playa Tamarindos courts.
Competing in the men’s tournament for Mexico will be the Ontiveros brothers (Lombardo and Ulises), Pablo Guzman/Juan Virgen and Tomas Hernandez/Hector Rojo. The Ontiveros brothers have won all three Mexican domestic events this season with their last title being two weeks ago in Toluca where they defeated Hernandez and Rojo for the title.
The Ontiveros placed 17th in last year’s Corona Open where they upset an Athens 2004 Olympic team from Austria in the first-round. All three of their 2005 Corona matches were three-setters as China’s Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu ousted the Mexicans. The Chinese are in the Corona Field after netting their country’s first-ever SWATCH-FIVB World Tour men’s medal nearly three months ago in Poland.
Six women’s country quota matches were held Tuesday afternoon to determine the lineup for Wednesday’s Qualification Tournament. The women’s Main Draw starts Thursday as the Corona Open concludes Saturday for men and Sunday for women. The gold medal teams will split the $32,000 first-place prizes. The women’s SWATCH calendar ends next week in Phuket, Thailand.