Women's competition, Milan
From 1 September To 5 September 2004

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Alice Italian Open Next Women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Event
Milan, Italy, August 31, 2004 - The US$180,000 Alice Italian Open begins here Wednesday with a 26-team Qualification Tournament to determine the final eight spots in the Main Draw for the 12th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball event in 2004.

Ten teams and four players from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are scheduled to be in the Alice Italian Open Main Draw field, including two-time Olympic silver medallists Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil and Australia's Kerri Pottharst, who captured the gold medal with Natalie Cook at the Sydney 2000 Summer Games.

The qualifier will start at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at three sites around Milan, which is hosting a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event for the second-straight. The Arco della Pace (Arc of Peace) - Piazza Sempione will be the site of two of the courts with the other two courts at the world famous Piazza del Duomo, the classical Gothic cathedral, and Largo Beltrami.

The 32-team Main Draw will start Friday morning with 40 matches in the double-elimination event where 16 teams will advance to Saturday's play to determine the "final four" pairings. Sunday's schedule includes both the semi-final and medal matches as the winning team will share the $27,000 first-place prize.

The Alice Italian Open qualifying field includes two teams that won FIVB challenger and satellite events this season in Italy and France. Marie-Andree Lessard and Sarah Maxwell of Canada won the Italy challenger last month in Cagliari where they defeated Italian Olympians Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta 21-19, 16-21 and 15-12 in the semi-finals. The Tychnovas (Katerina and Marketa) of the Czech Republic won the Corsica Satellite two weeks ago.

Two other 2004 FIVB satellite winners have been placed in the Main Draw, including Sanne Keizer/Merel Mooren of the Netherlands and Ethel-Julie Arjona/Virginie Kadjo of France. The Netherlands pair won a satellite event earlier this month in Switzerland while Arjona and Kadjo won last week's event in Lavandou, France where they defeated the Finnish Nystrom twins (Emilia and Erika) in the finals.

Gattelli and Perrotta, who placed fifth in the Athens Games after losing to Cook and Sanderson in the quarterfinals, lead Italy's eight entries in the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event. Laura and Annamaria Solazzi, who competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, join Gattelli and Perrotta in the Main Draw along with Antonella Del Core and Caterina De Marinis.

Competing for Italy in the two-day qualifier are Margherita Chiavaro/Manuela Malerba, Gaia Cicola/Diletta Lunardi, Cristiana Parenzan/Cristina Prosperi, Marika Menin/Margherita Reniero and Omella Fumagalli/Roberta Marini.

Jia Tian and Fei Wang of China, who placed ninth at the Athens 2004 Games, defeated Adriana and Shelda for the 2003 Alice Italian Open title. Due to Fei Wang's knee injury, the Chinese pair will not defend their Milan title.