|FORTALEZA, BRAZIL, March 11, 2004 - The Brazilian qualifying team Larissa Franca/Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil scored the first "major" upset on the Praia de Iracema here Thursday in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener.
Seeded 28th in the 32-team Main Draw, Larissa and Felisberta Silva scored a 21-17, 10-21 and 15-11 win over fifth-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan of the United States in the first-round of the winner's bracket of the double-elimination women's beach volleyball event.
"We didn't play well," said Davis, who placed fifth with Johnson Jordan at the Sydney 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and fourth at last year's World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. "We had first match jitters, but credit the Brazilians for playing better than us." Johnson cited her team's "inconsistent play along with her inability to service better."
Davis was "thankful for cooler than expected weather. We have been here before by losing a first-round match on the American tour. We have a tough task as we face six-straight elimination matches to reach Saturday's semi-finals. We are disappointed, but we have a chance to redeem ourselves."
For Larissa and Felisberta Silva, Thursday's opening match was their fifth of the US$180,000 Brazilian Open. The pair won four qualifying matches Tuesday and Wednesday to advance to the Main Draw where Thursday's opening matches were played in a light rain.
With the win, Larissa and Felisberta Silva play 21st-seeded Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin of Canada, who also scored a 17-21, 21-16 and 15-11 win over 12th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba, the 2003 Pan American Games Gold Medallists. The winner of that match advances to play a team from China.
"I had faced Davis and Johnson Jordan last October at the World Championships," said Larissa, who played with Ana Richa at the event in Rio. "We lost 21-17 and 25-23 and I really had that on my mind. Although they are one of the top teams in the world, we knew it would be two at each side of the net and that we stood a chance if we played the way we can. We have been very consistent from the beginning and the four qualifying matches have helped us as a team."
Felisberta Silva called the win "one of the greatest in her career. We are really happy with the way we were able to overcome the fact of losing the second set and enter the tie-breaker at full throttle. We were really focused today and it seems like we are turning from girls into real women inside the court."
In addition to the upset wins by the teams of Larissa/Felisberta Silva and Dumont/Martin, other tandems posting first-round seed breakthroughs were 18th-seeded Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba (over 15th-seeded Mayra Garcia/Hilda Gaxiola of Mexico, 21-17 and 21-16) and 17th-seeded Angela Clark and Summer Lochowicz of Australia (over 16th-seeded Carrie Busch and Nancy Mason of the United States, 21-18 and 21-17).
The 32-team double-elimination Main Draw continues with 24 more matches Thursday and 18 matches Friday. The final four teams advance to Saturday's semi-final matches. The medal matches will be played Sunday where the Gold Medal team wins the $27,000 first-place prize.