Sanya, China, November 16, 2008 – Top seeds April Ross and Jen Boss of the United States beat 15th-seeded Huang Ying and Zhang Xi from China 21-17 and 23-21 in 44 minutes in the final here on Sunday to win back-to back SWATCH FIVB World Tour women’s gold medal at the US$350,000 China Sanya Open presented by Olympic Garden.
With their third SWATCH FIVB World Tour title following the success in the Thailand Phuket Open last week, Ross and Boss settled for the second overall on the points list of this season behind Brazilians Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly. This is the highest finish by an American team since 2003 when Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh placed second behind Sandra Pires and Ana Paula.
“Oh, it’s a surprise. We didn’t expect to finish second because we did not look at it,” said the 31-year-old Boss. “We are very happy to hear that and hopefully we will play better the next season.”
Sunday’s gold medal also marked the 78th title claimed by a team from the United States, who improved to an 8-1 win-loss record in its SWATCH FIVB World Tour final encounters against China.
Coming off Friday’s upset loss to ninth seeded Wang Jie and Zuo Man, Ross and Boss bounced back to win three elimination matches in a row for the semi-finals where they took a sweet avenge over the Chinese with a hard-fought 23-25, 21-15 and 15-11 victory.
“We had wonderful time here. It’s a hard tournament for us and we played a lot of matches to three sets. I am happy we have always been struggling,” added Boss.
Competing in their first-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour event together, Huang and Zhang were pleased to finish with a silver medal and split the US$19,500 second-place prize.
With six-straight elimination wins this week, Huang and Zhang are the third women’s team since 2002 to advance to a SWATCH FIVB World Tour finale after losing a first-round match.
“I am very satisfied with our performance. Despite the loss in the final, we played to our best standard in every match,” said Zhang Xi, the SWATCH most outstanding player of this event.
The 16-year old Huang is the youngest player ever to compete in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour final with the best previous finish being a gold medal performance for 17-year old Xue Chen at a 2006 Shanghai stop with Zhang.
“Huang played wonderful the whole week,” said Zhang Xi, who won the bronze medal with Xue Chen at the Beijing Olympics in August. “You can’t imagine that she is only sixteen and playing in her first FIVB World Tour event. It’s just incredible.”
The 1.92-meter Huang, who finished with five aces including the match winner in the Chinese tandem’s 21-14 and 22-20 semi-final victory over second-seeded Nicole Branagh and Tyra Turner of the United States, was wearing a band to her left knee during Sunday’s play, but she said it was no big problem.
“It’s all right, no big deal,” Huang told reporters at the press conference.
Earlier on Saturday, Branagh and Turner rallied past Wang and Man 19-21, 21-16 and 15-9 in 49 minutes for the bronze medal.
Playing in their second SWATCH FIVB World Tour event together after placing seventh last week in Thailand, Wang and Zuo settled for the fourth place with Wang, who paired with Tian Jia to win the Beijing Olympics silver medallist.
The season-ending SWATCH FIVB World Tour stop is also the final double-gender event where top seeds Benjamin Insfran and Harley Marques beat fifth seeds Roberta Pitta and Pedro Cunha 21-17 and 21-19 in an All-Brazilian final Saturday afternoon to win the men’s gold medal of the China Sanya Ope