Men's competition, Carolina
From 9 June To 13 June 2004

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Brazilian Cunha Awaits Final Birthday Gift
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 13, 2004 - Pedro Cunha celebrated his 21st birthday here Thursday and Sunday he will receive a belated gift from the Beach Volleyball promoters of the US$180,000 Carolina Open as the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour rookie will be looking for his first international gold medal.

Teaming with veteran Pará Ferreira, the Brazilians advanced to the finals of the Carolina Open, which is being presented by GlaxoSmithKline, after scoring a 21-15, 15-21 and 15-10 win over sixth-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger of the United States in 59 minutes.

The size of Cunha's gift will be determined in Sunday's final match when he and Pará play either second-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos of Brazil or seventh-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina.

"I was really nervous in the second set and became very anxious when attacking the ball," said Cunha, who is playing in his sixth "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event after playing his first three international events in the Under-21 competition. "Pará talked to me during the break after the second set and really calmed me down.

For the sixth-seeded Americans, Holdren took the blame for not being able "to side out" in the deciding third set. "Pará's blocking and my failure to side out was the difference. You can not fall behind early in a set and expect to win."

In the tie-breaking set, Cunha and Pará jumped to 4-0, 8-2 and 10-4 leads. Pará's blocks resulted in the Brazilians' second, fourth and 15th points provided came at the right times as the Brazilians were competing in their fifth-straight three-set match in the Carolina Open.

Cunha and Pará represent the "young and old" of Brazilian beach volleyball. Pará is at the start of his 11th-season on the international tour with eight gold medal finishes, including the 1997 World Championship title when he won the gold medal on his 24th birthday with Guilherme Marques in Los Angeles when they defeated Americans Canyon Ceman and Mike Whitmarsh in the finals.

Cunha won the men's FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships U-21 championship last August in France with Pedro Solberg Salgado. Cunha and Adriano Fonseca won the silver medal at the 2002 U-21-championships in Italy. In his first international event in 2001, Cunha won another FIVB-sponsored youth event in France with Anselmo Sigoli.

The Carolina Open concludes later Sunday with the medal matches. The gold medal winners will share the $27,000 first-place prize. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to Europe next week for the final four Olympic qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Mallorca.