Men's competition, Mallorca
From 7 July To 11 July 2004

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Three Ring Winners Friday
SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 9, 2004 - Europe 4, the Americas 3 and Oceania 1.

That is how the Beach Volleyball winner's bracket looked after the opening two men's Main Draw rounds of the US$360,000 Mallorca Open as teams from the five major regions of the world that represent the Olympic rings competed here Friday in the final qualifying event for the 2004 Athens Games.

The countries of Austria, Germany, Norway and Switzerland led the way with four teams posting 2-0 records Friday as the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stages its sixth stop in Europe this season after also competing in Brazil, South Africa, China and Puerto Rico prior to Sunday's deadline for the completion of qualification for Athens.

Second-seeded Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann returned to action Friday with wins over teams from South Africa and Canada. The Germans missed last week's stop in Norway after winning their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title in Berlin June 27.

Other European winners Friday were the fourth-seeded Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) of Switzerland, 21st-seeded Robert Nowotny and Peter Gartmayer of Austria and 26th-seeded Bjorn Maaseide and Iver Horrem of Norway.

While the Germans and Swiss are ticketed for Athens, the wins by the Austrians and Norwegians helped improve their Olympic standings. Maaeside and Horrem, who placed 25th last week in Norway, improved their Olympic qualifying point total with 1,148 while Nowotny and Gartmayer stand at 1,102 to currently rank 18th and 19th, respectively.

The Americas' unbeaten teams Friday were the Brazilian tandems of Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos and Fabio Magalhaes/Paulo Emilio Silva. Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina joined their South American rivals with two wins Friday. The two Brazilians will play each other Saturday morning while the Argentineans face Nowotny and Gartmayer.

While Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack, the top-ranked team from Oceania on the Athens list, take a week off, fellow Australians Julien Prosser and Mark Williams won both of their matches Friday to carry their region forward into Saturday action. Prosser and Williams challenge the Lacigas Saturday morning while Dieckmann and Reckermann play the Norwegians.

Schacht and Slack are currently Australia's top ranked with 1,578 points for their best eight finishes since the start of the Olympic qualifying process in January 2003. Prosser and Williams are second with 1,520 points and can pass Schacht and Slack with a seventh-place or better finish this weekend.

The fourth of five-straight mixed gender events, the men's Mallorca Open Main Draw started concludes Sunday when the winning team shares the $27,000 first-place prize. The women's competition ends Saturday with morning semi-finals and afternoon medal matches.