Manama, Bahrain, November 1, 2008 - Brazilian Alison Cerutti became the 21st player from the South American county to win a SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal since 1994 as the 22-year old teamed with Pedro Cunha to win the US$175,000 Bahrain Open 2008 here Saturday evening.
Seeded third in the 32-team Bahrain Open 2008, Alison and Cunha scored a 22-20 and 21-19 win in 44 minutes over second-seeded Andy and Kevin Ces of France to share the $28,000 first-place prize at the 19th of 20 men’s stops on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar.
It was the Brazilians second win this week over the Ces brothers, who dropped a 21-13 and 21-10 quarter-final match to Alison and Cunha Thursday in the double-elimination tournament. Cunha, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the event, collected his second medal after placing second last year at the Bahrain Open with Franco Neto.
For the French tandem, it marked the first-time since 1994 that a Beach Volleyball team from the European country competed in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match. In claiming the $19,500 second-place prize, the Ces brothers became the first French team to compete in back-to-beack SWATCH semi-finals after placing fourth two weeks ago in Dubai.
“I am honored to join a list of great Brazilian players in winning a SWATCH gold medal,” said the 2.02-meter (6’8”) Alison, who was competing in his second FIVB Beach Volleyball event with Cunha and 18th overall. “A lot of credit goes to Pedro for his great play behind my play at the net. A single player does not win championships as teamwork is essential, especially with Beach Volleyball.”
After starting to play Volleyball in 2001, Alison began playing full-time on the beach in 2005 with domestic events followed by two SWATCH FIVB World Tour appearances at the end of the 2006 season in Brazil and Mexico. With only four FIVB events in 2007, Alison has now competed in 12 international events this season featuring a third-place finish at the Swiss Grand Slam in July with Emanuel Rego.
Winner of three FIVB Challenger/Satellite events this season with Bernardo Romano in the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Estonia, Alison was competing with Cunha for the second-time this year at the Bahrain Open 2008. At the Dubai event, Alison and Cunha placed fifth after being eliminated by compatriots and 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour point’s champions Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado.
Saturday’s gold medal was Cunha’s third SWATCH FIVB World Tour title since starting his international career in 2004. Cunha’s first FIVB title was three days after his 21st birthday in 2004 with Para Ferreira in Puerto Rico followed by a second title last season in France with Franco Neto at Marseille. Like Alison, Cunha also won the Swiss Satellite event in 2004 with Fred Souza.
Saturday’s gold medal was the 147th won by a Brazilian team since the start of the international Beach Volleyball tour in 1987 as the Bahrain Open 2008 was the 228th event in the 22-year history of the circuit. Alison and Cunha were the eighth different Brazilian team to compete in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour “final four” this season as the South American country has won 10 gold medals this season with 20 podium placements.
In the Bahrain Open 2008 bronze medal match, 21st-seeded Sebastian Dollinger and Stefan Windscheif of Germany scored a 21-14 and 21-14 win in 39 minutes over 10th-seeded Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek to share the $14,000 for the third-place prize in their first SWATCH FIVB World Tour start together. Despite finishing fourth to split $10,500, Prudel and Fijalek became Poland’s first-ever team to compete in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour “final four”.
The 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar concludes with a women’s event in Thailand (Phuket, November 4-9) followed by a season-ending double gender stop in Sanya, China November 10-16. The 2009 international schedule will be announced in the next month highlighted by the SWATCH FIVB World Championships at the end of June in Stavanger, Norway.