Klagenfurt, Austria, August 6, 2006 - The US$580,000 A1 Grand Slam is the most “spectacular” event on the annual Beach Volleyball calendar and the 10th anniversary of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop proved to be a very “special” tournament for a pair of Americans here Sunday.
Played before a jam-packed crowd of 8,000 on the Lake Woerthersee centre court, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers ended the United States’ 50-event men’s gold medal drought on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Sunday afternoon by upsetting reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil 21-19 and 21-17 in 45 minutes to share the $42,300 first-place prize.
The last time a men’s team from the United States had won an international Beach Volleyball title was June 8, 2003 when Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard captured the FIVB season opener in Rhodes, Greece. Since then, American teams had four chances for a gold medal, including two months ago in Croatia when Emanuel and Ricardo defeated Dalhausser twice in the Zagreb stop to win the SWATCH title.
Brazil still holds a 20-15 edge in title matches against the United States. The United States has now won 27 gold medals with Rogers capturing his only other SWATCH title with Dax Holdren in Mexico six years ago. With the A1 Grand Slam being the 188th SWATCH men’s event since the start of the international title in 1987, Brazil had claimed 122 “open” gold medals led by Emanuel and Ricardo’s 22. For their eighth SWATCH silver medal in 30 finals, Emanuel and Ricardo split $28,300 for second-place.
“This is the greatest of all feelings to win a gold medal in front of this great crowd,” said the 26-year Dalhausser, who was born in Switzerland before moving to the United States. “Todd and I had a lot of confidence entering this match. Emanuel and Ricardo beat us pretty good in Croatia, but we learned a lot from those two matches.”
After finishing pool play Friday with a 1-2 mark, including a loss to 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World champions Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes, Dalhassuer and Rogers rebounded with five-straight match wins over two teams from the United States, third-seeded Julius Brink/Christoph Dieckmann of Germany and a 21-18 and 21-15 semi-final victory earlier Sunday over fifth-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina.
“Once we got out of our pool, we played better and better with each match,” said the 32-year old Rogers, who placed fourth in last year’s A1 Grand Slam with Sean Scott. “Phil’s play at the net has been awesome all year. He is a newcomer to FIVB play, so he has adapted quickly to the international game.”
Rogers, who was selected as the SWATCH most outstanding player for the A1 Grand Slam, was playing in his 51st SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event with nearly $200,000 in winnings. Dalhausser, who began playing internationally at the end of the 2004 season, finished seventh with Rogers at the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour in Berlin in their first event together.
In the bronze medal match, 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World champions Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil defeated 2001 SWATCH-FIVB World champions Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina 22-20 and 21-17 in 45 minutes. Marcio Araujo and Fabio, who had won the last three SWATCH events, shared $22,100 for third-place while Argentineans split $17,700.
The A1 Grand Slam was the seventh of seven-straight double gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. China’s Tian Jia and Wang Jie captured the women’s A1 Grand Slam gold medal Saturday by upsetting Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil in the finale.