Men's South Africa Open 2004
Cape Town, March 23-28

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French Tandems Pace South African Beach Volleyball Main Draw Qualifiers
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, March 24, 2004 - It was a French "party" on the beach of Camps Bay here Wednesday as two teams from France led the advancement of six countries from the Qualification Tournament into the Main Draw of the US$180,000 South Africa Open.

Both French pairs posted upset wins in the morning as ninth-seeded Ogier Molinier and Guilherm Deulofeu outlasted eighth-seeded Conrad Leinemann and Richard Van Huizen of Canada 16-21, 21-19 and 16-14 in 54 minutes before 13th-seeded Kevin Cès and Yannick Salvetti eliminated fourth-seeded Juan Garcia Thompson and Antonio Cotrino of Spain 21-19 and 21-11 in 44 minutes.

After struggling last season by failing to advance from a SWATCH-FIVB World Tournament in 13-straight "open" events, Cès and Salvetti have now posted back-to-back Main Draw qualifications after gaining a berth in the 2004 season opener last week in Brazil where they placed 17th.

"This is great," said Salvetti after his match as his partner echoed his sentiments for the pair of 23-year olds. "We struggled last season with great disappointment in not qualifying for so many Main Draws. Experience is a big factor on this tour along with training," said young Cès, who is competing with Salvetti in their 17th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.

"Right now, we did to work on our setting and passing," said Salvetti, who is considered one of the most "athletic" players on the international tour. "We are not a big team physically, so ball control becomes a big factor."

The French federation united Cès and Salvetti with a vision of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games in China. "We are encouraged by our play right now, so we might have a chance for Athens. With Ogier (Molinier) and Guilherm (Deulofeu) also qualifying today, France will have three teams in the Main. I don't know the history, but this might be a record for our country for a FIVB event outside of France."

The two French qualifiers Wednesday will join country men Stephan Camet and Mathieu Hamel in the 32-team Main Draw that opens Thursday. The gold medal match is set for Sunday after on the Camp Bays centre court where the winning team will split the $27,000 first-place prize.

Other teams advancing from the Qualification Tournament to the Main Draw also included two teams from the Netherlands - third-seeded Sander Mulder/Richard Kogel and 10th-seeded Max Backer/Emiel Boersma. Other pairs qualifying were top-seeded Eric Fonoimoana/Kevin Wong of the United States, 11th-seeded Robert Nowotny/Peter Gartmayer of Austria, 12th-seeded Satoshi Watanabe/Katsuhiro Shiratori of Japan and 5th-seeded Julius Brink/Kjell Schneider of Germany.

In a match featuring two Brazilian qualifiers, Watanabe and Shiratori scored a 21-19, 13-21 and 15-10 upset win over fifth-seeded Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik of Estonia, who placed 13th last week in Salvador by winning two of their four Main Draw matches.

Host South Africa has placed three teams in the Main Draw (Gershon Rorich/Colin Pocock, David Hodge/Ryan Wentzel and Dominic Shane Goliath/Andile Masinga). A total of 16 countries will be competing in the Main Draw. The teams of Raul Papaleo/Ramon Hernandez of Puerto Rico and Juan Garcia Thompson/Antonio Cotrino of Spain were late entries due to withdrawal of tandems from Germany and Norway.

Due to an injury to Markus Dieckmann of Germany, he and his partner Jonas Reckerman withdrew after placing fourth in Brazil last week. The FIVB also approved the withdrawal of the team of Iver Horrem/Bjorn Maaseide after it was "officially" submitted by the Norwegian Volleyball Federation. The Puerto Ricans and Spaniards were added since they were the highest ranking teams in the qualifier due to their FIVB points.
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