Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 9, 2006 - Due to a pair of injuries, Swedish Olympians from the Sydney and Athens Games reunited here Wednesday to earn a Main Draw berth by winning two Qualification Tournament matches in the US$200,000 Mazury Open presented by the Hotel Anders.
Bjorn Berg and Simon Dahl scored wins over teams from Latvia and Kazakhstan to join seven other tandems in advancing to Thursday’s opening Main Draw rounds of the third annual Mazury Open, which is being played on four Beach Volleyball courts in the Taborskie Woods on the Lake Szelag Maly.
“Both our partners got hurt in Austria and we both thought we were done for this event,” said the 34-year Berg. “Once we learned about our partners problems, we decided to give it a try this week. This is such a good spot to play and we did not want to miss the opportunity to compete in this event since it is the last SWATCH stop in Europe this season.”
The last time Berg and Dahl played together was at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games where the Swedes placed ninth. This week’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event is their 78th international start together (14th on the all-time list for team participations) with $215,345 in earnings to rank 39th on the career team list.
“Just remember, it is Berg and Dahl in the write up today,” said Berg as he walked up the hill from the Lake Szelag Maly courts with Norway’s Jorre Kjemperud. “That is our old web site (berg-dahl.com). It is good playing with Simon again. We had eight great seasons together and qualified for two Olympics together.”
Robert Svensson, Berg’s partners since the end of the 2004 season, is sidelined with shoulder problems. Dahl took the 2005 SWATCH campaign off to finish his degree in photography, before resuming competition this season with Stefan Gunnarson, who twisted his right ankle last week in Klagenfurt.
Wednesday’s Mazury Open preliminary rounds almost produced a “rarity” as seven of the top eight-seeded tandems in the 37-team SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Qualification Tournament advanced as expected. Although no record has been kept for “perfect” qualifying seed order, it is believed that it has only happen once in SWATCH history when the top eight-seeded women’s teams advanced to the Main Draw at the 2004 Mallorca event.
Denying the “perfect eight” was 15th-seeded Kjell Goranson and Vegard Hoidalen of Norway, who advanced to the Main Draw with a 21-18, 14-21 and 15-11 win over second-seeded Mark Heese and Richard VanHuizen of Canada. Hoidalen placed third in the 2004 Mazury Open with Kjemperud while Goranson was ninth with Tarjei Skarlund. Kjemperud and Skarlund are this weeks Main Draw.
Joining the eighth-seeded Swedes and the Norwegians in qualifying for the Mazury Open Main Draw were top-seeded Florian Gosch/Bernhard Strauss of Austria, third-seeded Luizao Correa/Nalbert Bitencourt of Brazil, fourth-seeded Renato Gomes/Jorge Terceiro of Georgia, fifth-seeded Jan Schnider/Marcel Gscheidle of Switzerland, sixth-seeded Yannick Salvetti/Guilherm Deulofeu of France and seventh-seeded Pedro Rosas/Jose Pedrosa of Portugal.
Fifty-four (54) Mazury Open Main Draw matches will be played Thursday (32) and Friday (22). Saturday’s play will have the final two elimination rounds followed by the semi-finals in the afternoon. The medal matches will be played Sunday afternoon as the final two teams compete for the $32,000 first-place prize.
Following the Mazury Open, the men take a six-week break before resuming play at the end of September in Vitoria, Brazil (September 25-October 1). The Brazilian Open will be the ninth of 10 double gender SWATCH stops this season as the women play twice in Poland and Portugal before rejoining the men for the Vitoria stop.