Kristiansand, Norway, August 8, 2007 - When Liesbet Van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha left the Tresse city centre courts Tuesday afternoon, the Belgium women show their disappointment in losing an opportunity to compete in the Main Draw for this week’s US$350,000 Otera Open by being upset in the qualifier by a team from the Ukraine.
Twenty-four hours later, Van Breedam and Mouha were all smiles after posting a pair of Main Draw wins over teams from Brazil and Cuba here Wednesday in the inaugural Otera Open being staged in this resort town on the southern coast of Norway known as “the Summer City”.
Van Breedam and Mouha gained a “lucky loser” berth late Tuesday evening when the Belgium pair won a draw with Italy’s Daniela Gioria and Giulia Momoli for a Main Draw spot vacated by Chiaki Kusuhara and Mika Teru Saiki when the Japanese pair withdrew from the Otera Open’s “money” rounds after the start of Tuesday’s qualifier that determined the last eight tandems for the 32-team Main Draw
“Sometimes, it is better to be lucky than good,” said the 24-year old Mouha following the “lucky loser” draw Tuesday evening as the Belgium pair had lost to Galyna Osheyko and Svitlana Baburina of the Ukraine 21-17 and 21-16 in the qualifier. “I just hope we can recover from our disappointment today to take advantage of this break to post a good finish this weekend.”
With the two wins Wednesday, Van Breedam and Mouha are now guaranteed of their best finish in 17 career SWATCH-FIVB World Tour starts. The Belgium pair entered this weekend after matching their previous best SWATCH placement of 17th last week at the Austrian Grand Slam. Earlier this season, Van Breedam and Mouha finished 17th for the first-time in the Canadian Open in Montreal.
After earning a “second chance”, Van Breedam and Mouha opened play Wednesday by defeating fifth-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil 21-18, 16-21 and 15-13. In their second match of the day, the Belgium pair posted an 18-21, 21-18 and 15-9 victory over 12th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba.
Thursday’s schedule for the 28th-seeded Van Breedam and Mouha starts with a match against fourth-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany. The winner of the match challenges either top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca or ninth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen of Norway for a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Other opening winner’s bracket matches in the lower half of the bracket have a pair of Chinese teams playing tandems from Switzerland and Germany. Second-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang face 10th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany while third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang play the 27th-seeded Simone Kuhn and Lea Schwer of Switzerland.
Sixteen other women’s teams remain in the double-elimination Otera Open with one defeat each. The 10th of 13 double gender events this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the Otera Open concludes Saturday with the women’s semi-finals and medal matches. The men’s “final four” matches will be played Sunday as the winning teams share the $30,000 first-place prizes.
Following this week’s Otera Open, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour remains in Europe for three more events. An inaugural double gender event will be played on the Finnish isle of Aland next week before taking a week off. The international tour resumes for the final double gender event in Europe at St. Petersburg followed by a men’s only stop in Mazury region of Poland.