Rhodes, Greece June 11-15 2003
WORLD TOUR GETS UNDERWAY IN RHODES
The 2003 Women's Swatch-FIVB World Tour gets underway with the $150,000 Hellas Open on the Greek island of Rhodes, the largest island in the Dodecanes and appropriately as a launch for the international calendar, is a meeting point of the European, Asian and African continents.
Last year Rhodes hosted a women's World Tour event for the first time and this season promoters will stage tournaments for both genders over consecutive weeks on this sun-drenched holiday retreat, known to many as the island of Roses.
The Hellas Open will also serve as a vital opportunity for organisers to fine-tune their event operations ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and several tonnes of sand will again be moved from the island's picturesque beaches into Rhodes's City Hall Square, the venue that proved so popular with spectators in 2002.
For the players, the Hellas Open also represents the first event on the road to qualification for the 2004 Olympic Games and the leading women's teams will be determined to launch their qualifying campaigns on a positive note.
Looking to successfully defend their title from last season will be the American team of Holly McPeak and ElaineYoungs. The powerful duo, who finished fourth on last year's world rankings after playing in just eight events, secured the Rhodes title with a 21-17, 21-16 victory over Australia's Olympic champions Natalie Cook and the now-retired Kerri Pottharst.
Local fans will also be hoping that Vasso 'Vicky' Karadassiou and Efi Syfri can improve on their bronze medal in this event last year. The Greek team - who beat Brazilian World Champions Adriana Behar-Shelda in the quarter-finals before losing to McPeak-Youngs in the semis - overcame the Dutch challenge of Rebekka Kadijk and Merrit Leenstra in the third-fourth place playoff to secure their first World Tour medal with a 21-17, 25-23 victory.
With it's stunning beaches, clear-blue waters, isolated coves and picturesque fishing villages, Rhodes has long been one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe - the Hellas Open should once again serve to further enhance the island's reputation.
After the Hellas Open, the Women's World Tour moves to Gstaad in Switzerland for the $150,000 Swiss Open.
Women's Podium 2002
1. McPeak-Youngs (USA)
2. Pottharst-Cook (AUS)
Pottharst Biography /Profile
Cook Biography / Profile
3. Syfri-Karadassiou (GRE)
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