Stare Jablonki, Poland, June 2, 2008 - After four years of mens SWATCH FIVB World Tour competition on the Hotel Anders Beach Volleyball courts, the top international women's teams will join their male counterparts at the Polish resort as the GE Money Bank Mazury Open began here Monday with Country Quota playoff matches for teams from Brazil and Germany.
Monday's matches set the lineup for Tuesday's qualifier where eight Beach Volleyball pairs will advance to the Wednesday's opening women's "money" rounds in the US$350,000 GE Money Bank Mazury Open at the Hotel Anders were 32 matches will start Main Draw play leading to Saturday's medal matches.
The fourth of 16 double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, GE Money Bank Mazury Open's men's Country Quota matches will be played Tuesday to set the lineup for Wednesday's qualifier. The men's 32-team Main Draw begins Thursday with the medal matches Sunday.
The GE Money Bank Mazury Open is the sixth women's and seventh men's event on the SWATCH schedule this season as the gold-medal teams on Saturday and Sunday will share the $28,000 first-place prizes. The Hotel Anders stop will be the men's only event in Poland this season while the women return to the European country for the second stop after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Myslowice (September 2-7).
While the men have been playing at the Hotel Anders courts since 2004, Warsaw has staged SWATCH FIVB World Tour events the past two seasons where teams from China and Brazil have captured the gold medals in title matches with compatriots.
Jia Tian and Wang won the 2006 Warsaw title by defeating rivals Chen Xue and Xi Zhang for the gold medal while Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca claimed the 2007 crown by defeating compatriots Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede for the first-place prize.
Maria Antonelli and Leao Vanilda won a pair of Brazilian Country Quota matches to advance to the GE Money Bank Mazury Open qualifier. After scoring a 21-16 and 22-20 win over Shaylyn Bede and Agatha Bednarczuk, Antonelli and Leao posted a 21-16 and 21-16 win over Leila Barros and Sandra Pires.
Monday's opening win avenged a Country Quota setback to Shaylyn and Agatha last Monday in Barcelona where Antonelli and Leao dropped a 21-9 and 21-19 decision to their Brazilian rivals. Antonelli and Leao netted four podium placements last season on the FIVB Challenger/Satellite circuit with two firsts, a second and a third.
Antonelli and Leao also won a pair of SWATCH FIVB World Tour Country Quota matches in Warsaw last June with a victory over Shaylyn and Agatha. However, the Brazilians failed to advance to the Main Draw after being eliminated in the qualifier.
Helke Claasen and Antje Roder won the Germany Country Quota match with a 21-19 and 21-18 win over Claudia Lehmann and Julia Sude. Claasen and Roder will be competing in their first qualifier this season after earning Main Draw berths in the first five SWATCH stops in Australia, China, Korea, Japan and Spain. The German's best finish this season was a seventh in Japan where they eliminated Americans Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs, who won last week's FIVB stop in Barcelona.
Host Poland will have four tandems competing in Tuesday's qualifier, including Magdalena Michon-Szczytowicz/Agnieszka Woloszyn, Beata Galek/Wiktoria Staszak-Staszkow, Paulina Eska/Aleksandra Filip and Zuzanna Kaczkowski/Kinga Kolosinska. Polish teams in the Main Draw are Katarzyna Urban/Joanna Wiatr, Gosia Sobolewska/Dorota Wojtczak and Monika Brzostek/Karolina Sowala.
The GE Money Bank Mazury Open is also the 23rd of 28 Beijing qualifying events for women and the 24th of 29 qualifying events for men. The Beijing process started in May 2007 to determine the 24-team Olympic fields for both men and women in the Chinese capital with a maximum of two tandems per country.