Modena, Italy, May 10, 2006 - Eight women’s teams from six countries secured the final Main Draw spots here Wednesday for the this week’s 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opening event as the world’s best Beach Volleyball players begin competing for the “money” in the US$200,000 Play Station Portable Italian Open.
The Play Station Portable Italian Open starts the 15th-season of women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball competition. Italy is hosting its eighth women’s open after staging the event the past three seasons in Milan. Other women’s SWATCH events held in Italy were at Pescara (1997), Vasto (1998) and Cagliari (2000-2001).
Austria and China advanced two tandems each from the qualifier as Play Station Portable Italian Open is being played at three sites, including the Foro Boario next to the Universitá Di Economia close to the center of the city. While the Foro Boario courts will stage a bulk of the competition, other sites are in Carpi (21 km, 13 miles) northwest of Modena and Sassuolo (19 km, 12 miles) southwest of Modena.
Other countries capturing Main Draw berths Wednesday were Australia, Germany, Finland and the United States as only three of the top eight-seeded teams in the 46-team qualifier advanced to the opening Main Draw rounds that start Thursday afternoon. The first of 15 women’s events on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour concludes with Sunday’s medal matches on the Foro Boario centre court.
The ninth-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) and top-seeded Sara Montagnolli and Sabine Swoboda secured Main Draw berths Thursday for Austria. Chinese qualifiers were 13th-seeded Zhang Xi and Chen Xue and 31st-seeded Ying Zhang and Man Zuo.
With the Austrians are experienced teams, the Chinese pairs are playing in their first-ever SWATCH stop together. Montagnolli and Swoboda are playing in their 25th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together while the Schwaigers are competing in their 22nd international Beach Volleyball event together. The Schwaigers also placed third last season at the SWATCH-FIVB U-21 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Other teams advancing to Thursday opening Main Draw rounds are the third-seeded Nystrom twins (Emilia and Erika) of Finland, sixth-seeded Kylie Gerlic/Stacey Kloeden of Australia, 21st-seeded Tyra Turner/Makare Wilson of the United States and 26th-seeded Michaela Eckl/Mireya Kaup of Germany. For Kaup, it was an early birthday present as she’ll celebrate her 32nd birthday Wednesday as the Germans compete together for the first-time internationally.
Led by two-time Olympians Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta, host Italy will have three teams in the Main Draw. Fifth-place finishers at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Gattelli and Perrotta will be seeking Italy’s first-ever “final four” finish in a women’s Italian Open. Gattelli and Perrotta will be playing in their 76th international event with $321,832 in career earnings together and a 176-145 match mark (54.8%).
Italy’s best-ever women’s placements on their home sand were fifths, including two by Gattelli and Perrotta in 2003 and 2004 in Milan. Also in the Main Draw for Italy are Daniela Gioria/Diletta Lunardi and Elisa Gatti/Laura Menon.