Umag, Croatia, June 22, 2011—Playing the first of three main draw pool play matches Thursday, the world’s best young men’s teams are scorching the sun-baked Umag sand at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth 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.
With 24 teams divided into six four-team pools, Canada, host country Croatia and Poland each had two teams win their opening matches while the other six countries posting single round-robin pool play wins were Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Slovenia and Switzerland. 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. A total of 73 teams (38 men and 35 women) from 29 countries are in Umag at the 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships.
Round-robin pool play concludes on Friday with 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. The top two teams in each pool along with the best four third place teams will advance to the single-elimination ‘knockout rounds’ on the weekend. The men will play two matches each on Friday while the women will play once.
Three of the four teams that advanced from Wednesday’s Qualification tournament won their opening pool play matches Thursday. Seeded 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively, winning their matches Thursday were the tandems of Slovenia’s Jan Brulec/Valentin Turk, Poland’s Pawel Pelka/Maciej Rudol and Canada’s Danny Demyanenko/Andrew Kocur. The Slovenians defeated a team from Spain while the Polish tandem beat a team from the United States and the Canadians defeated a team from Germany.
Canada’s other main draw team, eighth-seeded Aaron Nusbaum/Grant O’Gorman, opened the main draw with a win over Ukraine’s 17th-seeded Anton Artemchuk/Andriy Levehenko while Poland’s third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak beat USA’s 22nd-seeded Bennett Bird/Nicholas Porterfield the fourth team who advanced from Wednesday’s qualifier.
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 men’s teams are Mario Boras/Ivan Zelijkovic, Tomislav Fuzul/Bruno Simunic and Antonio Starc/Sandro Venier.
As the host country in the youth world championships Fuzul/Simunic are seeded No. 1 and won an all-Croatian match Thursday, defeating 24th-seeded countrymen Boras/Zelijkovic while sixth-seeded Starc/Venier opened their pool play with a win over Finland’s 19th-seeded Niklas Seppanen/Tommi Siirila, 21-10, 21-18, in 29 minutes.
Following their win over their compatriots, Fuzul commented, “We have played these guys many times, but today wasn’t the same because we just play like opponents, not friends in training sessions. The conditions for playing were hard because we played at the ATP Stadion-Umag center court for the first time and the sand was very deep which made the net seem even higher, so we had trouble jumping at first. It was hot, but we’re happy because this is our first international tournament.”
This year’s international event is being produced by the Croatian Volleyball Federation in association with MPG of Zagreb, Croatia. MPG has produced four FIVB Swatch World Tour men’s events in Zagreb and this is the first international beach volleyball event ever held in the colorful resort area of Umag.
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.
Sport TV of Croatia is taping a special highlight show including action from 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 33 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.