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

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South African & Japanese Teams Highlight Beach Volleyball Play
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, March 25, 2004 - Ideal weather greeted the world's top beach volleyball players here Thursday at Camp Bays as an elimination victory by a team from South Africa and two wins by the 29th-seeded team from Japan highlighted play in the opening Main Draw rounds of the US$180,000 South Africa Open.

Playing with a host country exemption, Gerson Rorich and Colin Pocock of South Africa did not disappoint the local fans by eliminating seventh-seeded Nikolas Berger and Clemens Doppler of Austria 21-14 and 21-19 in 42 minutes.

The South Africans, who were defeated by a team from Puerto Rico in their opening match Thursday, play ninth-seeded Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug of Germany Friday morning. The two other host country teams of David Hodge/Ryan Wentzel and Dominic Shane Goliath/Andile Masinga each dropped both their matches to place 25th.

"Wow," said Pocock after the match as the South Africans were encouraged by the support of the crowd. "This is great for our country to win a match today and prove that we are capable of playing against the great teams of the world," Rorich added.

For the South Africans, the win might springboard them into the Olympic qualification process for Athens. "This is a good start for us as we need to play well in seven more events to compete with Angola (Mario Silva/Miguel Xisto) for a continental berth. "Colin was very good defensively today and I provided a decent block at the net. If we play consistent and keep our concentration, we will have success."

By defeating higher-seeded teams from the United States and Cuba, Satoshi Watanabe and Katsuhiro Shiratori of Japan are now guaranteed their best-ever finish on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after posting a 13th in 2001 at Mallorca, Spain.

After scoring a 16-21, 21-18 and 15-13 comeback win over fourth-seeded Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard of the United States, Watanabe and Shiratori scored a 21-18 and 21-18 win over 13th-seeded Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rosell of Cuba. The Japanese challenge 12th-seeded Tande Ramos and Franco Neto of Brazil in their first match Friday.