STAVANGER, NORWAY, June 30, 2006 - With one round of pool play matches left on Friday’s schedule, all eight men’s groups have “clear-cut” leaders in the US$580,000 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam where 24 spots are available for Saturday’s three elimination rounds.
Brazil has three of the unbeaten teams with 2-0 marks, including three-time defending ConocoPhillips Grand Slam champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil in Pool A. Other undefeated Brazilians tandems are second-seeded Marcio Araujo/Fabio Magalhaes (Pool B) and 25th-seeded Pedro Cunha/Franco Neto (Pool G).
Teams from Argentina, Estonia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland also lead their pools with 2-0 records at the sixth of 15 men’s stops on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa of Spain, the 2002 SWATCH-FIVB U-21 World championships, have made the most of Pool E play with upset wins over teams from Australia and Italy.
Herrera, the Athens 2004 Olympic silver medal winner with Javier Bosma, and Mesa has won four matches this week, including two qualifying wins Wednesday. The Spaniards entered this week’s play without a match victory in their first two SWATCH stops in Shanghai and Croatia.
Due to right ankle problems, Herrera missed three events in Italy, Portugal and last week in Switzerland. Herrera and Mesa teamed to win the 2002 SWATCH-FIVB U-21 World Championships where they defeated Cunha in the finals. Cunha was a 2001 and 2003 U-21 gold medallists.
Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina, the 2001 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, joined Cunha/Franco and Herrera/Mesa as the three lower-seeded teams as group leaders. With one match left In Pool D against once-beaten and fourth-seeded Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques of Brazil, the Argentineans will be seeking a bye in the first-round of the elimination bracket.
Other pool leaders are third-seeded Julius Brink/Christoph Dieckmann of Germany (Pool C), sixth-seeded Kristjan Kais/Rivo Vesik of Estonia (Pool F) and seventh-seeded Markus Egger/Martin Laciga of Switzerland (Pool G).
Host Norway has two teams with 1-1 pool play marks entering the final 16 matches, including ninth-seeded Iver Horrem/Bard-Inge Pettersen and 10th-seeded Jorre Kjemperud/Tarjei Skarlund. Both end pool play against higher-seeded teams from Switzerland.
Horrem and Pettersen challenge eighth-seeded and Athens 2004 Olympic bronze medalists Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel in a Pool H finale with both teams 1-1 after defeating a team from Sweden. Kjemperud and Skarlund end Pool G play against Egger and Martin Lacing.
The second of seven-straight double gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam “concludes Saturday for the women and Sunday for the men. The final two teams in both genders will be competing for the $42,300 first-place prize.