Women's competition, Gstaad
From 15 June To 19 June 2004

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European Champions Return Home
GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND, June 17, 2004 - "Nervous, but confident" is how Nicole Schnyder-Benoit described this week's women's stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour here Thursday as she returns to her home country with partner Simone Kuhn for the US$360,000 1to1 Energy Open.

Entering the fifth-stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after playing well in their last three Beach Volleyball stars, the sixth-seeded Swiss tandem defeated 27th-seeded Angela Clark and Kylie Gerlic of Australia in their first 1to1 Energy Open match Thursday morning.

After placing ninth and third in two Asian stops in China and Japan, respectively, Schnyder-Benoit and Simone Kuhn won last week's European Championships in Germany by defeating Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide of Norway 21-13 and 21-16 in the finals.

"For sure, we are nervous. We feel that our play the past three weeks has helped our confidence a lot," said Schnyder-Benoit. "We are proud to be hosting the world's best players here this week to help showcase our sport to our country. We expect to play well here, but we face a tough road to reach the finals Saturday."

Playing in the lower half of the winner's bracket with the top three teams from Brazil and an Australian tandem that features two-time Olympic medallist Natalie Cook, Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn's next three matches could be against the South Americans.

Switzerland's first match against a Brazilian opponent is set as Schnyder-Benoit and Kuhn play 11th-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, who placed third in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour opener in March after defeating the Swiss pair in an elimination match for a spot in the semi-finals.

If the seeds hold, the Swiss pair would then play third-seeded Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires Friday morning. If Schnyder-Beniot and Kuhn upset Ana Paula and Pires, who is also a two-time Olympic Beach Volleyball medallists, the Swiss tandem would play second-seeded Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar Friday afternoon for a spot in Saturday's semi-finals.

"We don't look at the bracket, we just look at our next opponent," said Schnyder-Benoit. "At this level, there are no easy matches. There are upsets every week. Look at the Norwegian ladies and how they finished last week in the European Championships. They were seeded in the middle of the 32-team Main Draw and advanced to the finals with three upset wins."

The women's Main Draw concludes Saturday afternoon when the final two teams compete for the $27,000 first-place prize. The 1to1 Energy Open is the fifth women's event on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after opening stops in Brazil, Greece, China and Japan.