Women's competition, Osaka
From 2 June To 6 June 2004

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Three Teams Advance from Country Quota Matches
OSAKA, JAPAN, June 2, 2004 - Country quota matches for Australia, Canada and China teams were held here Wednesday morning to determine the 28-team single-elimination Qualification Tournament bracket as the women's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to Tannowa Beach for the 11th-straight season.

Winning opening country quota matches Wednesday were the teams of 21st-seeded Stacey Kloeden/Renae Maycock of Australia, 15th-seeded Wanda Guenette/Nancy Gougeon of Canada and 24th-seeded Xue Chen/Ren Zhengqing of China.

The fourth of seven Olympic qualifying tournaments this season to determine the teams for the Athens 2004 Games, the Qualification Tournament will determine the final eight tandems for the start of Friday's Main Draw where 32 teams compete for US$180,000 in prize money.

The top four seeds in the Qualification Tournament will not play Wednesday as they earned byes into Thursday's final elimination round. Japan has three teams competing in the qualifier with the host country already having three tandems entered into the Main Draw.

Three of the four seeded teams in this week's qualifier are listed on the provisional Olympic qualifying list for the 2004 Athens Games. Andrea Ahmann and Jana Vollmer, the top-seeded Qualification Tournament team, ranks third among German women on the Olympic list and trail No. 2 Suzanne Lahme and Danja Musch by 370 points entering the final four Athens qualifying events.

Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba, who are seeded second in this week's qualifier, are 21st on the provisional Olympic list followed by Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway and Ethel-Julie Arjona and Virginie Kadjo of France, who are 22nd and 23rd, respectively, on the provisional standing.

Also competing in the qualifier is Leigh-Ann Naidoo and Julia Willand of South Africa, who have earned a spot in Athens as the African women's representative in the beach volleyball competition. Naidoo and Willand, who are seeded 12th in this week's qualifier, play Kloeden and Maycock in their first match Wednesday afternoon.

The double-elimination Main Draw begins Friday with 40 matches to advance 16 teams to Saturday's rounds. Another 18 matches will be played Saturday with four teams advancing to Sunday's semi-finals and medal matches. The "final four" tandems will be competing for $70,000 in prize money with the winning team will share the $27,000 for capturing the gold medal.

After opening women's Olympic qualifying events in Brazil, Greece and China, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour departs Osaka for a weekend off before the final three Olympic qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany and Norway. The beach volleyball competition at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games will be played August 14-25.