Alanya, Turkey, May 16, 2006 - With the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour taking a week off before resuming play with the first double gender event of the season in Shanghai, international Beach Volleyball competition will continue starting here Wednesday with the first stop on the 2006 European tour in Alanya, Turkey.
The Alanya stop is the first of six stops on the 2006 European Tour that concludes August 24-27 at The Hague in the Netherlands. Following the Alanya medal matches Sunday, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour highlights the international schedule next week in China followed by a women’s stop in Athens and a men’s event in Croatia May 31-June 4.
The southern Turkey resort of Kleopatra Beach hosts the continent’s top players for the third-time as the “Pearl of the Turkish Riviera” staged the 2003 European Championships and the 2005 season opener. Qualification play begins Wednesday to determine the final four spots in the men’s and women’s 16-team Main Draws that begins Friday.
Headlining the Alanya field are 2005 European Tour champions Markus Egger and Martin Laciga of Switzerland and the Vickys (Vassliliki Arvaniti and Vasso Karadassiou) of Greece. The top tour teams from last season are already in the Main Draw along with Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa of Spain, who captured the gold medal at the 2005 European Championships in Moscow last August along with the Greek women.
Egger and Laciga are also the defending Alanya men’s champions after defeating Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the 2005 finale 26-24, 17-21 and 15-10. With Reckermann sidelined with injuries, Markus Dieckmann will not play in Alanya this season, but his younger twin brother Christoph is entered with his new partner Julius Brink.
Italy’s Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta won the 2005 Alanya women’s gold medal after posting an 18-21, 26-24 and 15-12 win over Rebekka Kadijk and Merel Mooren of the Netherlands in the finale. Karadassiou, who played in the 2005 Alanya event with her two-time Olympic partner Efi Sfyri, competed in the next three European events last season with Arvaniti as the pair took a second in Spain, and firsts in Switzerland and Moscow. Kadijk and Mooren were the silver medalists in the Russian finale.
Germany’s Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau, who defeated the Greeks in the Spanish European event last season, won the 2003 European Championships in Alanya and return this season to better their bronze medal finish in Turkey last season. Nikolas Berger and Clemons Doppler won the 2003 Alanya men’s event, but are entered this season with different partners.