Acapulco, Mexico, October 26, 2006 - A pair of qualifying teams for the US$400,000 Corona Open posted two seed-break-through wins each here Thursday to lead eight Beach Volleyball teams into the next Main Draw round of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.
With their Thursday successes, the tandems of 24th-seeded Inguna Minusa/Inese Jursone of Latvia and 27th-seeded Geske Banck/Suzanne Lahme of Germany improved their Corona Open match mark to 4-0 both teams had to each win a pair of qualifying matches Wednesday on the Playa Tamarindos.
While the Germans are guaranteed their best SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finish together in their first season as partners, Minusa and Jursone matched their best previous finish in an “open” international event after a ninth last month in Warsaw, Poland. The Latvian won a FIVB satellite event earlier this season in Finland after placing fifth in a challenger stop in Cyprus.
Lahme, who placed ninth at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with Danja Musch, and Banck failed to advance from a German country quota playoff in their last SWATCH appearance in Austria after placing 13th two weeks earlier in St. Petersburg. Lahme, who was also an indoor Olympian for Germany, captured a pair of SWATCH medals with Musch while Banck had a pair of silver medal finishes in satellite events last season with Mireya Kaup.
Both qualifying teams face Brazilian tandems in Friday’s opening matches in the third-round of the winner’s bracket. Minusa and Jursone play top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca for the second-time this season while the Germans meet third-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Talita Antunes in the first match between the two teams.
Juliana and Larissa, who clinched their second-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour point’s title last month in the Madeira Islands, defeated Minusa and Jursone in pool play at July’s Grand Slam stop in Norway where the Brazilians captured one of their seven international gold medals this season.
Other teams posting 2-0 Main Draw records Thursday were second-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh of the United States, fourth-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich of Germany, fifth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen of Norway and seventh-seeded Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba.
May-Treanor and Walsh, who lost the Corona Open finale last October to Juliana and Larissa in the highest scoring match in SWATCH history (28-26, 40-42 and 15-13), face the Cubans for the third-time with the Americans winning twice last season in Portugal and Brazil.
Hakedal and Torlen will challenge the Germans seeking their third win over Brink-Abeler and Jurich as the two teams last met at August’s Grand Slam stop in Austria with the Norwegians coming from behind to win the pool play match 26-28, 21-17 and 15-13.
Sixteen other women’s teams remain in the double-elimination event with one defeat each. The Corona Open, the 10th of 10 double gender events on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, concludes Sunday when the final two teams compete for the $32,000 first-place prize. The men conclude their season Saturday with the medal matches on the Playa Tamarindos.