Sanya, China, April 26, 2011 — Rieke Brink-Abeler/Angelina Grün of Germany and Brittany Hochevar/Jennifer Fopma of the United States secured their berths in Wednesday’s Qualification Tournament with respective victories from the Country Quota Playoffs as the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Sanya Open presented by Olympic Bay started here on Tuesday.
Brink-Abeler/Grün beat compatriots Karla Borger/Britta Büthe 2-0 before overcoming Geeske Banck/Anja Gunther in three sets to advance into the two-day Qualification Tournament. Brittany Hochevar/Jennifer Fopma had no great difficulties delivering fellow Americans Tealle Hunkus/Heather Lowe 21-10 and 21-14 in the other Country Quota Play-off match Tuesday afternoon.
The tournament is the first of three single-gender events for women in the 2011 season, which also includes two single-gender events for men along with 12 double-gender events and a special 24-team Olympic test even in London August 9-14.
39 teams will vie for eight Main Draw tickets on Wednesday and Thursday and the southern resort city of China will be star studded when the Main Draw kicks off on Friday. Two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh of the United States and Brazilian duo Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca are considered as top title favorites while other medal contenders include Sanya Open title winning teams from 2008 to 2010, namely Jennifer Kessy-Boss/April Ross of the United States, Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland and Chinese Xue Chen/Zhang Xi.
Beach volleyball came to Sanya with a particular fascination during the “exceptional” year of 2008. Thanks to the perfect combination of dynamic games and the terrific tropical scene of Sanya, FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Sanya Open achieved an immediate success in its first edition and has already become a brand for the beautiful beach city in southern China.
With the Sanya Open held in October for the last three years, the organisers have decided to move the play to late April this year. In this way, the event could avoid any potential issues with the typhoon season and get connected on schedule with the Shanghai Jinshan Open, another FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour event being held in China next week. The date change it makes it much easier for international teams to participate in both events in China on consecutive weeks.
This event is the 219th women’s competition in the history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.