Paris, France June 17, 2008 - The men's SWATCH FIVB World Tour competition at the US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem started here Tuesday with two German teams playing a Country Quota match to set the field for Wednesday's qualifier on the Champs de Mars within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
The ninth men's stop on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, the fourth annual Henkel Grand Chelem also features women's play where eight Beach Volleyball tandems advanced from Tuesday's Qualification Tournament to Wednesday's opening Main Draw schedule that features pool play.
After placing a disappointing 25th last week at the Berlin Grand Slam in the German capital, Kay Matysik and Stefan Uhmann are hoping to redeem themselves this week after posting a 13th and ninth in their first two SWATCH FIVB World Tour events this season in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Winners of three European tour events this season in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the "redemption road" started for Matysik and Uhmann on Tuesday afternoon with a 24-22 and 21-18 Country Quota win over Florian Huth and Kjell Schneider in 45 minutes. Matysik and Uhmann will be playing in their fifth SWATCH qualifier Wednesday and have been successful in advancing to a FIVB Main Draw in each of their previous four attempts.
"It was very disappointing last week in Berlin," said the 25-year-old Matysik. "We had been playing very well together on both the FIVB and European tours. We were flat and could not play with the same energy we had in the previous events this season. Without the pressure of playing in front of family and friends, we hope to redeem ourselves this week. It will be tough as the qualifiers are single-elimination with no room for error."
With host France already having three teams in the men's Main Draw for the Henkel Grand Chelem, Wednesday qualifier will feature several former Beach Volleyball Olympians. Headlining the field are bronze-medal winners Mark Heese (1996) of Canada and Patrick Heuscher (2004) of Switzerland. Heese is playing with Ahren Cadieux after competing in the previous three Olympics with John Child.
After Heuscher and Stefan Kobel placed on the Athens 2004 Olympic podium, the Swiss pair won the inaugural Henkel Grand Chelem in 2005 by defeating Americans Jake Gibb and Stein Metzger in the finale. Heuscher is currently playing with Sascha Heyer as the Swiss pair is 12th on the qualifying list for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games while Heese and Cadieux are ranked 22nd.
With no teams in the qualifier, France's Main Draw entries are the Ces brothers (Andy and Kevin), Fabien Dugrip/Gregory Gagliano and Guilherm Deulofeu/Yannick Salvetti. Led by Dugrip and Gagliano (774 points), all three teams are ranked among the top 33 pairs on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour point's list.
The men's Henkel Grand Chelem "money" rounds begin Thursday as the semi-finals for both genders being played Saturday with the medal matches Sunday. Each gold-medal team will share the $43,500 first-place prizes for the second of six SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam events in 2008.