|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 22, 2004 - While Norway is still a week away from hosting the ConocoPhillips Open in Stavanger, the Scandinavian country's Beach Volleyball fans were celebrating four qualifying wins by their two women's teams here Tuesday during the opening day of play in the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam at the Schlossplatz.
Ninth-seeded Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide earned Norway's first spot in the 32-team Main Draw by eliminating Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil 21-19 and 21-13. The win marked the third-time this season that Glesnes and Maaseide had won their final qualifying match in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event to advance to the "money" rounds.
Norway's second spot in Wednesday's opening Main Draw rounds was captured by seventh-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen, who scored a 21-11 and 21-12 win over 12th-seeded Ester Alcon Catalina Pol of Spain. The Norwegian pair has now advanced from the qualifier to the Main Draw four times this season.
"After we saw the revamped qualifying match schedule after the morning country quota rounds, we knew we had a tough task to make it to the Main Draw," said Maaseide. "This win really helps us as we are on the bubble for a spot in the Olympics. With more points available for this event than any other tournament this season, we had to advance from the qualifier to help improve our Olympic-qualifying point total."
In addition to the increased prize money for the event, the Main Draw teams will also receive a "big" boost in placement points. For winning an "open" event, teams receive 360 points with the total decreasing by 36 points per tandem per place. For the Smart Grand Slam, the winning team will receive 600 points with the total decreasing by 60 points per place.
The Italian teams of Daniela Gattelli/Lucilla Perrotta and Laura Bruschini/Annamaria Solazzi also advanced from Tuesday's qualifier. Other teams earning Main Draw berths Tuesday were Angela Clarke/Kylie Gerlic of Australia, Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba, Katerina Nikolaidou/Maria Tsiartsiani of Greece and Ulrike Schmidt/Antje Roder of Germany.