Umag, Croatia, June 24, 2011—Escaping from elimination Friday after playing the final two of three pool play matches, 16 of the world’s best young men’s best teams representing 14 countries have moved forward to the start of Saturday’s single-elimination rounds on the sun-baked Umag sand at the 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 luscious lagoon on the gentle shores of the peaceful Adriatic Sea.
After playing the last two of three pool play matches Friday, the remaining field of 24 men’s teams in the double-gender event was pared to 16 for Saturday’s round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals in afternoon and evening sessions respectively. The medal matches are scheduled for Sunday evening in each gender.
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 were in Umag when the 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships started on Wednesday.
The two countries to advance two teams to the men’s single elimination bracket play were Canada and Poland while the countries with single tandems advancing were: Australia, Austria, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Among the sweet 16 set for the final ‘knockout rounds’ on the road to the gold medal are three teams that advanced to the main draw pool play after surviving the three qualification tournament rounds on Wednesday that determined the final 24 teams for main draw pool play. The top two teams in each pool along with the best four third place teams have advanced to the single-elimination ‘knockout rounds’ on Saturday and Sunday. The men played two matches each on Friday while the women played once.
Canada’s two teams to advance were eighth-seeded Grant O’Gorman/Aaron Nusbaum (3-0 in winning Pool K) and 23rd-seeded Andrew Kocur/Danny Demyanenko (2-1 and second in Pool K after advancing from qualification tournament). Poland’s two teams to advance were third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak (3-0 in winning Pool I) and 21st-seeded Pawel Pelka/Maciej Rudol (2-1 and second in Pool J after advancing from qualifying).
The third team to advance from the qualification tournament was Slovenia’s 20th-seeded Jan Brulec/Valentin Turk (2-1 and second in Pool K).
All six pools were won by teams that were undefeated in their three round-robin matches over the last two days. Besides Canada’s O’Gorman/Nusbaum and Poland’s Kaczmarek/Kosiak, advancing with 3-0 records so far were Russia’s seventh-seeded Vasili Andrianov/Viacheslav Kirienko (Pool L), Austria’s ninth-seeded Lorenz Petutsching/Tobias Winter (Pool J), New Zealand’s Sonny Hirini/Morgan Seymour (Pool H) and Norway’s Runnar Sannarnes/Andreas Takvan (Pool G).
Poland’s Kaczmarek/Kosiak, Russia’s Andrianov/Kirienko and Canada’s Nusbaum/O’Gorman not only were undefeated in pool play, they also did not lose a set in their three matches, entering the ‘knockout rounds’ with perfect 6-0 set records so far in this year’s tournament.
After winning Pool G with their win over a team from Croatia, Norway's Andreas Takwam said, „The game was good, but it was soo hot. The stadium is nice to play in and the Croatians were good, we had to play hard to beat tham. We feel honored to represent our country and advance to the final 16 against all of these great teams."
Poland is the only country this year that has advanced two teams in each gender to their respective sweet 16 single-elimination rounds.
In the combined history of this event, Germany leads all countries with 13 total medals (four for men and nine for women) and final four finishes with 15 total (six for men, nine for men). Second is Poland with eight total medals (six for men and two for women) and in final four finishes with 13 (eight for men and five for women).
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. Croatia’s Fuzul/Simunic and Starc/Venier both had 1-2 records in pool play while Boras/Zelijkovic were 0-3. None advanced to the single-elimination bracket phase.
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.