Men's competition, Espinho
From 2 June To 6 June 2004

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Kiwi combination comes good
Espinho, Portugal, June 3, 2004 - Kiwis Kirk Pitman and Jason Lochhead stunned Netherlands pair Emiel Boersma and Max Backer with a storming display of Beach Volleyball at the 2004 Swatch - FIVB World Tour event in Espinho on Thursday. In an intriguing centre court qualification clash, the New Zealanders came out on top in straight sets (21-18, 21-18).

Pitman and Lochhead are a significantly inexperienced side in terms of World Tour tournaments played, however, their combination of pace and power is forming a very interesting partnership and one that is certain to garner success in the near future. Lochhead, the shorter of the duo, was full of energy and produced many jaw-dropping digs to save the New Zealanders from an out of sorts Netherlands team.

"Obviously they're a lot bigger than us and to win out there today we had to serve hard," Lochhead said after the victory. "We were serving very well and were extremely happy with our blocking and digging. Overall, everything was working out for us," he added before explaining why the physical differences between the pair seem to combine so well. "I'm a small fast guy and he's the big blocker so we suit each other well in that sense."

For Max Backer of the Netherlands, there wasn't much to be happy with after the defeat. "We're not in shape, it was the same last week (In Serbia and Montenegro)," said a disconsolate Backer in a post match interview. "Also, the sand here is really deep and that doesn't suit our game at all," he explained.

As things progressively worsened for the Dutchmen out on court, so Backer became more and more audible with constant rousing shouts. "I like to make a lot of noise," the 27-year-old stated. "Sometimes when I'm fully concentrated i don't make so much but if things aren't working out for us I start with the noise."

Asked if Backer's bahaviour was a distraction for the opposition, Jason Lochhead was certain that that was not the case. "It's just their way of getting fired up and we just block that out and do our own stuff," he said.

With his focus now firmly set on main draw qualification, Lochhead insists both he and his teammate will not get carried away with the victories they gain and are happy just to keep learning as a team. "Sure this was a pretty big win because it's our first year on the Tour and every win is difficult to obtain," he said. "But as I said, it's our first year and it's important that we learn from this."

Serbia and Montenegro Open semi-finalists Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik of Estonia enjoyed a qualifying victory over Australians Adam Maskall and Matt Jones, winning 2-0 (21-9, 21-17) in 31 minutes while Satoshi Watanebe Katsuhiro Shiratori from Japan beat Finland's Toni Touminen and Jussi Savio 2-0 (21-16, 25-23).