|FORTALEZA, BRAZIL, March 11, 2004 - It was no picnic on the beach for Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan here Thursday as the United States tandem "survived" two afternoon elimination rounds on the hot and humid Praia de Iracema in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour beach volleyball season opener.
With eight teams from Brazil (three tandems) China, Germany, Switzerland and the United States (two) advancing through to the third-round of the winner's bracket, the fifth-seeded Davis and Johnson Jordan eliminated the tops teams from Cuba and Greece to advance with seven other tandems to the third-round of the elimination bracket.
After being upset 21-17, 10-21 and 15-11 by 28th-seeded Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta Silva of Brazil, Davis and Johnson Jordan ousted 12th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba (21-15 and 26-24) and 11th-seeded Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri of Greece (19-21, 21-19 and 15-13).
After the 46-minute match with the Cubans, Davis and Johnson Jordan had to rally against Karadassiou and Sfyri. After losing the first set to the Greece tandem, Davis and Johnson out-lasted Karadassiou and Sfyri in the second set. The Americans fell behind 9-5 in the deciding set before winning the 60-minute match.
"Our backs were to the wall," said Johnson Jordan. "Greece had just scored five-straight points and they controlled the match. However, we did not quit. We managed to overcome a great play by Sfyri near the end. It's our first event of the year and we are very inconsistent. Hopefully, we play better tomorrow."
For Davis and Johnson Jordan, Friday's first match will not be easy as they face Brazilian legend Jackie Silva with her new partner Luciana Rosario. Like the Americans, Silva and Rosario dropped their first match Thursday before eliminating from Norway and Greece.
The US$180,000 Brazilian Open resumes Friday morning as six of the top eight-seeded teams won both of their matches as expected Thursday. Top-seeded Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States plays ninth-seeded Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau of Germany with the winner facing either upset-minded Felisberta Silva and Larissa or fourth-seeded Jia Tian and Fei Wang of China.
The other third-round matches in the winner's bracket features Brazil's top two teams - Ana Paula Connolly/Sandra Pires and Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar. The second-seeded Shelda and Adriana Behar plays seventh-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs of the United States while Ana Paula and Pires are challenged by sixth-seeded Nicole Benoit and Simone Kuhn of Switzerland. The winners of the two matches will play Friday afternoon for a spot in the semi-finals.
In addition to the USA/Brazil confrontation, other elimination matches to open Friday's play are 18th-seeded Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta, Cuba facing 10th-seeded Summer Lochowicz/Kerri Pottharst of Australia, 13th-seeded Lu Wang/Whenhui You of China playing 22nd-seeded Chiaki Kusuhara/Ryo Tokuno of Japan and eighth-seeded Suzanne Lahme/Danja Musch of Germany against 31st-seeded Laura Bruschini/Annamaria Solazzi of Italy.