Women's competition, Rhodes
From 19 May To 23 May 2004

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Surprises aplenty at Hellas Open
Rhodes, Greece, May 21, 2004 - An early morning start was on the cards on Friday as the finest players on the women's Swatch - FIVB World Tour made their way to the Beach Volleyball courts and they were greeted by blazing sunshine as they set about their work in the 2004 Hellas Open in Rhodes.

The biggest crowd was to be found at centre court where Greek favourites Efi Sfyri and Vasso Karadassiou took on French team Virginie Kadjo and Ethel-Junie Arjona. The visitors failed to read the script, however, beating Sfyri-Karadassiou in the first round by 2-1. The day's other surprise came in the all German clash between Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau who went down to compatriots Andrea Ahmann and Jana Vollmer in three sets in a match that lasted over an hour.

There was better luck for tournament favourites Kerri Walsh and Misty May of the USA who defeated Helke Claasen and Martina Stoof of Germany in straight sets. "We are so anxious to do well here and it's always great to come back," May commented before the game while her partner Walsh stated, "We're very excited to be back here and we would like to thank the people of Rhodes for having us. The event just continues to get better here year after year."

Speaking about their chances at the Hellas Open on this leg of the Swatch - FIVB World Tour, Walsh commented, "Misty and I plan on doing very well at this event and it will povide us with great preparation for the Olympic Games. It's great to play in Rhodes because the fans come out and embrace us and we know it will be very similar in Athens."

The Chinese duo of Ji-Zhang Xi continued to impress having advanced through the qualifying rounds to reach the first round proper on Friday. Once there, they surprised experienced Cuban duo Larrea Peraza-Fernandez Grasset who lost by 2-1. Ji Linjun is just 18-years old while her partner Xi Zhang is only one year older.

Team Jordan-Davis of the USA eased past Norway's Hakedal-Torlen in straight sets while there was a solid win for Australians Lochowicz-Pottharst who beat Gaxiola-Garcia of Mexico. Switzerland's Schnyder-Benoit Kuhn downed Norway's Maaseide-Glesnes while Alexandra and Monica of Brazil beat Australian team Clarke and Gerlic.