Men's competition, Stare Jablonki
From 21 July To 25 July 2004

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Poland Hosts Men's "Open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Event
STARE JABLONSKI, POLAND, July 20, 2004 - After five-straight weeks of mixed gender events, the women take a weekend off while the men continue with their ever first-ever "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop in Poland with their next-to-last double-elimination tournament prior to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The Mazury Open Qualification Tournament will be played here Wednesday and Thursday behind the Hotel Anders to decide the final eight berths in the 32-team Main Draw. The "money" rounds start with 40 matches Friday. Saturday's 18 matches will determine the "final four" participates for Sunday where the winning team shares $27,000 for the title.

Presented by the Hotel Anders, the inaugural Mazury Open marks the 10th-straight week of competition this season for the men, who had previous stops in China, Serbia, and Montenegro, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Mallorca and France since May 19.

Of the tandems scheduled to compete in the US$180,000 event, only Argentina's Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde, and Ramon Hernandez and Raul Papeleo of Puerto Rico will have competed in all 10 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stops since May 19. Most of the European teams missed June's Puerto Rican stop to compete in their continental championships in Germany.

"So many events, so quickly," said Brazil's Marcio Araujo, who teamed with Benjamin Insfran to win last week's stop in Marseille by defeating Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland in the gold medal match. It was the Brazilians' first title this season after winning three times last season.

"We were lucky to take a couple of weeks off due to our Olympic ranking entering the 2004 season," Marcio Araujo added. "For some other teams, the qualifying for Athens came down to the end and they had to compete in every event. Our two weeks off prior to Marseille really helped us win that tournament. We were fresher and better prepared to play in France."

Seven of previous nine events were part of the Olympic qualifying process for the Athens Games that ended July 11 in Mallorca as men's teams attempted to compile enough points from their best eight finishes since January 2003 to rank among the top 22 teams. The final two spots in the 24-team men's field in Greece will be for an Africa continent country and host Greece.

In addition, European teams could count their best finish from either the 2003 and 2004 continental championships. Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany won this year's European title by defeating Switzerland's Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger in the finals in Timmendorfer Strand last month.

Austria's Nikolas Berger and Clemens Doppler won the 2003 European final in Turkey by defeating in Dieckmann and Reckermann. Doppler is now sidelined after injuring his knee last week in France. The continental title was part of a string of 10-straight top 9s for the Austrians, who also had "final four" finishes last season in Greece (bronze) and the United States (fourth).