Umag, Croatia, June 23, 2011—Playing the first two of three main draw pool play matches Thursday, the world’s best young women’s tandems are enjoying the Umag sunshine, soothing summer breezes and the heated competition 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, nine teams are 2-0 after the first day of pool play. Finishing undefeated after the first day of pool play are teams from Australia, host country Croatia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. 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.
Undefeated so far in pool play are Australia’s seventh-seeded Mariafe Artacho del Solar/Nicole Laird, Croatia’s top-seeded Alisa Hasanbegovic/Tena Sunic, Germany’s fifth-seeded Anna Behlen/Anika Krebs, Lithuania’s 22nd-seeded Ieva Dumbauskaite/Monika Povilaityte, Poland’s 15th-seeded Karolina Baran/Kaarzyna Kociolek, Russia’s ninth-seeded Ksenia Dabizha/Olga Sorokina, Spain’s 11th-seeded Maria Martinez/Paula Soria, Switzerland’s 12th-seeded Nina Betschart/Nicole Eiholzer and USA’s second-seeded Sara Hughes/Justine Wong-Orantes.
As the host nation, Croatia has three teams in each gender pre-seeded into the main draw and all played twice on Thursday ending with a 3-3 record including one team at 2-0. The three women’s teams representing Croatia are Alisa Hasanbegovic/Tena Sunic (2-0 on Thursday), Ivana Ovcina/Zrinka Sutalo (1-1) and Josipa Pivac/Sara Radanovic (0-2).
As the host country, Hasanbegovic/Sunic are top-seeded in the event and they won twice on Thursday, defeating 24th-seeded compatriots, Pivac/Radanovic, 21-14, 21-15 in 31 seconds to start the day. They ended their successful day with their second straight ATP Stadion-Umag center court win, this one over Ukraine’s 13th-seeded Meri Khmaladze/Angelina Lesunenko, 21-19, 21-16 in 36 minutes.
After second win today Hasanbegovic reflected "I can not describe how excited and happy I am. Especially because we usually play indoors. Tomorrow we play against Switzerland, but according to points we already have, maybe we are going further regardless of the result. We hope for the best.“
After losing their opening early Thursday afternoon to France’s 19th-seeded Pauline Martin/Lisa Menet-Haure, 21-8 and 21-9 in 27 minutes, they came back in their early evening center court match to beat Norway’s 18th-seeded Margrethe Skjelbred/Alacia Wennenberg, 21-17, 21-16 in 32 minutes.
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.