Fortaleza, Brazil, September 25, 2007 - After a five-year absences, the men’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour has returned to the capital city of the State of Ceará as country quota playoff matches for teams from Brazil and the United States opened the final stop on the 2007 calendar here Tuesday.
The tandem of Matt Fuerbringer/Casey Jennings will be competing Wednesday in the men’s qualifier in an effort to become the fourth American team in the US$400,000 Banco do Brasil Open Main Draw. Three Brazilian pairs will be competing in the preliminary rounds to increase the host country’s entries for the “money” rounds to seven teams.
Fuerbringer and Jennings, who won the last American domestic event two weeks ago in San Francisco, ousted Nick Lucena and Sean Scott from the Banco do Brasil Open with a 21-18 and 23-21 win in their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour match together this season.
The husband of Olympic champion Kerri Walsh, Jennings was “glad to get the win” Tuesday in his first SWATCH appearance this season. Fuerbringer had played in four previous 2007 FIVB events with Scott, including a 17th-place finish at world championships two months ago in Gstaad, Switzerland.
While Fuerbringer is competing on the Praia de Iracema for the first-time, Jennings placed 17th in the last men’s stop in Fortaleza with Carl Henkel as the pair dropped a 2002 pool play match to Scott and his former partner Todd Rogers after upsetting Para Ferreira and Harley Marques of Brazil in their first outing.
Walsh teamed with Athens Olympic partner Misty May-Treanor to win the last women’s event on the Praia de Iracema in 2004. In the first two Fortaleza stops for the women, May-Treanor and Holly McPeak won the gold medal in 2000. With May-Treanor sidelined with injuries at the end of the 2001 season, Walsh and McPeak finished second on the Praia de Iracema after losing the finale to Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil.
Earning automatic Banco do Brasil Open Main Draw berths for the United States were the teams of Phil Dalhausser/Rogers, Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal and Mike Lambert/Stein Metzger. Dalhausser and Rogers captured the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in July and finished as the top team on the American tour with 10 titles this season.
With Bruno de Paula and Benjamin Insfran avoiding a country quota playoff to gain a spot in Wednesday’s qualifier, the teams of Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Ricardo Brandao/Rodrigo Monteiro defeated Brazil rivals Tuesday to advance to the preliminary rounds. Benjamin won the last Fortaleza event with Marcio Araujo in 2002 by defeating Metzger and Kevin Wong in the finals.
Brazil, which is hosting its 29th men’s SWATCH event since the start of the FIVB tour in 1987, had already placed four teams in the Main Draw led by reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos.
Emanuel, who won a 1997 Fortaleza gold medal with Ze Marco de Melo, and Ricardo enter this week’s event after clinching their fifth-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season point’s title three weeks ago in Poland for their sixth international win this year.
Other Brazilian teams in the Banco do Brasil Open Main Draw are Marcio Araujo/Fabio Magalhaes, Harley/Pedro Salgado and Pedro Cunha/Franco Neto. Like Emanuel and Ricardo, all four teams have won SWATCH titles this season, including three each by Marico Araujo/Fabio and Harley/Salgado.
Franco, who captured the first two Fortaleza events in 1994 and 1995 with Roberto Lopes, and Cunha scored a gold medal win in Marseille, France. Roberto Lopes and Fabio Guerra were eliminated in Tuesday’s country quota round by Brandao and Rodrigo 23-21 and 21-18.
The last of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Banco do Brasil Open concludes with the medal matches Saturday for women and Sunday with men. The women’s Main Draw starts Wednesday following by the opening men’s “money” rounds Thursday.