Women's competition, Mallorca
From 6 July To 10 July 2004

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Beach Volleyball Players Welcome Hot & Steamy Weather
SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 6, 2004 - After three weeks competing in the damp conditions at Beach Volleyball venues in Switzerland, Germany and Norway, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour has returned to the sand at this costal Mediterranean resort where hot and steamy weather greeted the world's top players here Tuesday.

The US$360,000 Mallorca Open began with the first of two days of qualifying for the women where 16 teams will compete for nine Main Draw spots Wednesday during the final rounds of the 32-team Qualification Tournament.

Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta, Sydney 2000 Olympians for Italy, was the only team not to play Tuesday. Thirteen (13) of the other top 16-seeded teams advanced as expected with the only seed break-through being a 21-15, 17-21 and 15-12 win by 17th-seeded Inguna Minusa of Inga Pulina of Latvia over 16th-seeded Nystrom sisters (Emilie and Erika) of Finland, and 18th-seeded Karin Trüssel and Nadia Erni of Switzerland eliminating 15th-seeded Cecilie Josefsen and Kristine Wiig of Norway 21-16 and 21-17.

"Wow, it is hot and steamy," said Hilda Gaxiola, a Sydney 2000 Olympian from Mexico. "After three weeks of playing up north, it is great to get back to a place like home. Like the cool weather, these conditions will be tough at the other end of the spectrum. However, I like the hot weather."

Playing with Mayra Garcia as the fifth-seeded team in the qualifier, the Mexicans will play 12th-seeded Krisztine Nagy and Anita Pethro of Hungry for a spot in the Main Draw. "This is our final chance to protect our standing for Olympic qualification by improving our point total. We can't risk awaiting the lucky loser spot."

After Wednesday's eight winners qualifying for a berth in the "money" rounds, the team with the highest seed among the losers will also advance to the 32-team Main Draw. Last week in Norway, Gattelli and Perrotta dropped their final match, but advanced to the Main Draw as the "lucky" losers.

Garcia and Gaxiola are currently 20th on the Olympic qualifying list for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the process in January 2003. The top 23-ranked women's team on the Olympic qualifying list advance along with a tandem from the continent of Africa.

With a finish of 13th or better, the Mexicans will improve their Olympic qualifying point total by at least four points as the pair has 1,152 points. A ninth-place finish will give them another 36 points as they compete with teams from Australia, Bulgaria, Cuba, France, Italy, Japan and Norway for spots No. 18 through 23.

The Norwegian Olympic hopeful teams of Susanne Glesnes/Katherine Maaseide (1,196 points) and Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen (1,130) are also competing in the qualifier along with the Yanchulova sisters (Lina and Petia) of Bulgaria (1,064). Like the Mexicans, all three teams need to advance from the Qualification Tournament to improve their Olympic qualifying totals.

The women's Main Draw starts Thursday with the women's "final four" matches being played Saturday. The winning team shares the $27,000 first-place prize. The fourth of five-straight mixed gender events, the Mallorca Open will start men's qualifying Wednesday with the Main Draw beginning Friday and the finals Sunday.