Brasilia, Brazil, April 17, 2011 – Three women's teams from host country Brazil and one each from Germany and the United States emerged from the country quota play-offs on Sunday to advance to Monday's Brasilia Open qualification tournament as the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour got under way.
Renata Ribeiro/Michelle Soares, Luana Madeira/Liliane Maestrini and Priscilla Lese Lima/Angela Vieira (all Brazil), Germany's Karla Borger/Britta Buthe and USA's Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson all won their matches to move into Monday's qualification phase.
There had been six Brazilian teams competing for three host country advancement positions in the country quota play-offs. Brazil also has four teams already pre-seeded in the 32-team main draw which begins on Tuesday.
With the host country allowed up to seven main draw entries, Renata/Soares defeated Raquel Pelucci/Semirames Perazzo Marins while Luana/Lili beat Shaylyn Bede/Vanilda Leao and Lima/Vieira got the better of Izabel Bezerra/Elize Maia Secomandi.
In their country quota play-off, Germany's Borger/Buthe defeated Geeske Banck/Anja Gunther to progress to the qualification tournament. Germany has three women's tandems pre-seeded in the main draw. Visiting nations are allowed up to four teams and a possible wild card for five in FIVB main draw competition. Earlier Borger/Buthe had defeated Stefanie Huttermann/Anni Schumacher in their first-round match before playing Banck/Gunther, who had a first-round bye.
USA's Hanson/Fendrick overcame compatriots Jennifer Hopma/Brittany Hochevar in straight sets to advance. USA has three pre-seeded teams and one wild-card tandem already in the main draw line-up.
"After having a baby I haven't been on the courts for very long," said Renata, a 2008 Olympian, following the victory over Raquel/Semirames. "I played the National Tour last year and since this January I've been practising to play on the World Tour again. In Brasilia my partner is Michelle Soares, but I don't know who I will play with for the rest of the international season. I'm feeling good technically and physically, like before I stopped playing to have my baby."
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, the international beach volleyball circuit is starting with the $380,000 Brasilia Open for the third consecutive season. The tournament will continue until Saturday on the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Quadrante 1. It is the first of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 calendar, with the men having two additional single-gender events and the women three along with a special 24-team Olympic test event in London from August 9-14.
The Brazilian capital is welcoming nearly 140 men and women's teams from 35 countries. This event is the 258th men's and 218th women's competition in the history of the World Tour. The defending champions are Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers of USA and Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca of Brazil and all six medal-winning teams from 2010 have returned to Brazil this year.
The men's country quota play-offs and qualification tournament will be played on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Eight teams from each qualification tournament will advance to their respective main draw tournaments, which start on Tuesday for the women and Wednesday for the men. The medal matches will take place on Friday for women and Saturday for men.
Brazil has staged a World Tour event every year since the start of the international series for men in 1987 and women in 1992. This is the 33rd men's event and 28th women's tournament on the World Tour held in Brazil. It is also the 13th time Brazil has been the site of a season-opening event on the international circuit.
Countries with teams officially entered in the Brasilia double-gender event are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chile, Czech Republic, Columbia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.
With the Brazilian capital celebrating its 51st anniversary this week, crowds of over one million are expected to attend various holiday activities on the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia, especially during Thursday’s anniversary celebrations which feature the World Tour event.
The gold medal teams for each gender in the Brasilia Open will split US$30,000, the silver $21,000 and the bronze $15,000.