Women's competition, Stavanger
From 29 June To 3 July 2004

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Greece Earns Two Women's ConocoPhillips Open Main Draw Spots
STAVANGER, NORWAY, June 30, 2004 - It was a good day for the women's Beach Volleyball fortunes for Greece as the teams of Vassiliki Arvaniti/Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Katerina Nikolaidou/Maria Tsiartsiani won matches here Wednesday to lead qualifiers into the Main Draw rounds of the S$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open.

Joining the Greek tandems in advancing to the Main Draw of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event were tandems from Cuba, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United States as each team won final elimination matches in the 43-team Qualification Tournament. The 32-team Main Draw starts Thursday with the final four matches being played Saturday.

The top-seeded Arvaniti and Koutroumanidou defeated South African's Leigh-Ann Naidoo and Julia Willand 21-17, 26-28 and 15-8 while the eighth-seeded Nikolaidou and Tsiartsiani scored a 14-21, 21-17 and 15-11 win over Italian Olympians Laura Bruschini and Annamaria Solazzi. Greece had already placed Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri in the Main Draw due to SWATCH-FIVB World Tour entry points.

Earning Main Draw berths with upset wins Wednesday were Helke Claasen/Martina Stoof of Germany (No. 14-seeded), Mika Teru Saiki/Satoko Urata of Japan (18) and Sanne Keizer/Merel Moore of the Netherlands (23), who scored a 21-18 and 21-16 win over seventh-seeded Ethel-Julie Arjona and Virginie Kadjo of France. Claasen and Stoof upset third-seeded Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta of Italy 21-18, 18-21 and 15-11 while Teru Saiki and Urata posted a 21-18 and 21-17 win over second-seeded Angela Clarke and Kylie Gerlic of Australia.

Also earning Main Draw spots with elimination wins Wednesday were Mayra Garcia/Hilda Gaxiola of Mexico (4), Carrie Busch/Mason of United States (5) and Milagros Crespo/Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba (6). The advancement by the Mexicans and Cubans were important as both teams are competing to improve their Olympic qualifying list point totals.

Garcia and Gaxiola are ranked 20th with 1,152 points and need to finish 13th or better to improve their Olympic qualifying point total. The Cubans, who are tied with Arjona and Kadjo of France for the last two spots as both teams have totalled 1,106 points, also needs a 13th to improve their score for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the process in January 2003.

With two teams withdrawing from the Main Draw after the start of the Qualification Tournament Tuesday, the tandems of Clarke/Gerlic and the Italian Olympians Gattelli/Perrotta received the "lucky loser" advancements as the highest seeds among the losers in the final elimination rounds. Clarke and Gerlic's advancement keeps their Olympic hopes alive as they have 1,000 qualifying points and need a 17th or better to move into the top 23 ahead of Arjona and Kadjo, who failed to advance from the qualifier for the second-straight week.

The ConocoPhillips Open is the third of four-straight events in Europe before the July 11 deadline to determine the 24 women's teams for the 2004 Athens Games in August. The Main Draw concludes Saturday when the final two teams compete for the $27,000 first-place prize. The ConocoPhillips Open is the seventh women's event on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after opening stops in Brazil, Greece, China, Japan, Switzerland and Germany.