Umag, Croatia, June 22, 2011—Rising above the rest, four women’s beach volleyball teams endured blazing sunshine in a picture post-card setting along the Adriatic Sea, advancing through three qualifying rounds Wednesday to advance to the 24-team main draw at the 2011 FIVB Beach Vollwyball Swatch World Championships, the 10th annual event for players under 19, which is being held through Sunday at the impressive ATP Stadion-Umag, a professional tennis complex nestled around a lagoon on the shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Four men’s tandems also advanced Wednesday in the double-gender event to the 24-team men’s main draw, which will also start with two days of round-robin pool play on Thursday and Friday and two days of single-elimination bracket play on Saturday and Sunday. The semifinals will conclude Saturday’s schedule in the evening, and the medal matches for each gender will be played on Sunday night on the ATP Stadion-Umag center court.
Joining the 20 pre-seeded teams to complete the final field for the quest for the gold in Umag are teams from France’s 12th-seeded qualification team of Pauline Martin/Lisa Menet-Haure, Kazakhstan’s 10th-seeded Lyubov Bogatu/Bakhtygul Samalikova, Lithuania’s 14th-seeded Ieva Dumbauskaite/Monika Povilaityte and Poland’s ninth-seeded Marzena Kedzior/Paulina Stasiak. Poland now has two teams in the main draw as a total of 21 countries are represented among the men’s final 24 teams.
With all four advancing teams having to survive two rounds of qualification matches, France’s Martin/Menet-Haure advanced with wins over teams from Austria and Hungry, while Kazakhstan’s Bogatu/Samalikova won over teams from the Czech Republic and Italy (three sets). Lithuania’s Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte moved to the main draw with wins over teams from German (three sets) and Russia while Poland’s Kedzior/Stasiak earned their spot in the main draw by defeating teams from Canada and the United States.
Gathered in Umag for this year’s event are 73 teams (38 men and 35 women) from 29 countries. With 20 teams in each gender pre-seeded into their respective main draws, qualification tournaments were held Wednesday to determine the final four main draw spots. The 24 teams have been divided into six four-team pools for round-robin play on Thursday and Friday with the top two teams in each pool along with the best four third place teams advancing to the single-elimination bracket phase that will begin on Saturday.
A total of 1,900 tons of special sand have been transported to the ATP Stadion complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the ventue. The sand was brought from Cazma, Croatia, which 370 kilometers east of Umag near Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Admission to the event is free for the entire week, but donations will be taken at the gate to help the Play of Japan campaign, to assist with the reconstruction efforts in Japan in the areas hit by the devastating earthquake.
As the host nation, Croatia has three teams in each gender pre-seeded into the main draw and all will start pool play Thursday morning. The three women’s teams representing Croatia are Alisa Hasanbegovic/Tena Sunic, Ivana Ovcina/Zrinka Sutalo and Josipa Pivac/Sara Radanovic.
Countries represented in Umag at the 10th anniversary of this event are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.
A city of nearly 15,000 located on the Adriactic Sea in the Istria region of Croatia, the coastal city of Umag is the Westernmost town in Croatia, and the natural beauty of historic Umag’s countryside and turquoise water of the Adriatic have made the city an internationally popular summer destination. While this will be the first time the city has hosted an international beach volleyball event, Umag does annually host in July the Croatia Open tennis tournament which is part of the ATP World Tour.
Sport TV of Croatia is putting together a special highlight show including the semifinals and medal matches for each gender. An IMG television crew is also on-site to produce special segments from both genders to air internationally on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour highlight shows to air later this summer.
The 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Champions in each gender will be rewarded a “wild card” by the FIVB for a future FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour event during the final months of 2011 or during the 2012 season.
More information on the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships is available at both www.fivb.org and the Croatian Volleyball Federation at www.odbojkanapijesku.com.