Village Gstaad, Switzerland, July 6, 2011—Amidst the continuing peaceful and serene atmosphere of summertime in an enchantingly quaint village in the lush Swiss Alps, eight encouraged and inspired teams from eight countries fought through the challenge of two qualification round matches Wednesday to advance to the 32-team men’s main draw which starts Thursday at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems return to Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 12th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 10 men’s and 11 previous women’s events. Village Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440-feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour stop is held every year.
With Canada the only country with two teams still in competition in the second and final round of the qualification tournament, the eight countries advancing teams following two victories each in the qualification rounds Wednesday to earn spots in the men’s main draw in Gstaad were: Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Russia and the United States.
The 32-team men’s main draw starts Thursday with two days of round-robin pool play where each team will play three matches. The top three teams in each pool will then advance to the 24-team single elimination bracket phase which will start Saturday afternoon of the tournament.
Advancing to the men’s main draw are Brazil’s top-seeded qualification team Rhooney Ferramenta/Pedro Salgado, Canada’s 14th-seeded Christian Redmann/Ben Saxton, Czech Republic’s 27th-seeded Jan Dumek/Martin Tichy, Georgia’s fourth-seeded Renato Gomes/Jorge Terceiro, Italy’s 10th-seeded twin brothers Paolo and Matteo Ingrosso, Latvia’s second-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilous/Ruslans Sorokins, Russia’s eighth-seeded Yury Bogatov/Serguei Prokopiev and USA’s 12th-seeded Bradley Keenan/Casey Patterson.
Brazil’s Ferramenta/Salgado, Canada’s Redmann/Saxton and Italy’s Ingrosso brothers where the only three of those eight teams who made it out of last week’s FIVB Swatch World Tour qualification tournament to the main draw in Stavanger, Norway.
The fourth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011 began with women’s country quota matches on Monday, continues with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, starting one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday.
After coming through a country quota playoff win on Tuesday, Brazil’s Ferramenta/Salgado marched through the Swiss Alps to the main draw with qualification victories Wednesday over Angola’s 32nd-seeded Morais Abreau/Mario Silva, 21-10, 21-16 in 29 minutes in the first round and then eliminated Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, 21-19, 29-27 in 53 minutes.
Canada’s Redmann/Saxton defeated teams from Russia and Austria in two-sets each to move forward while Czech Republic’s Dumek/Tichy will play again for at least the next two days after beating teams from New Zealand and Turkey in their qualifying matches. Georgia’s Gomes/Terceiro won their two matches over teams from Portugal and Poland.
Four of the eight second-round qualifying matches went to three sets before the advancing teams could be decided Wednesday.
Italy’s Ingrosso twins advanced by defeating Germany’s 23rd-seeded Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka in the first round, 22-20, 17-21 and 15-11 in 54 minutes and their clincher was a Gstaad center court win over Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Philip Gabathuler/Jan Schnider, 21-19, 21-19 in 43 minutes.
Commented Italy’s Matteo Ingrosso after his team beat the Swiss in front of their home-country fans, “It is very hard to play here in Gstaad when the audience is so large and always supports the Swiss team. It was even harder today because the Swiss team played very well against us. I think we didn’t make many mistakes and that’s why we won today. Gstaad is a very beautiful village and area and this is our second time in this great tournament and it’s always very exciting because of the area and all the Swiss fans that come out to watch us play.”
Latvia’s Samoilous/Sorokins defeated Switzerland’s Andreas and Roman Sutter to start the day in two sets and then closed the deal on their advancement in the second round by defeating Canada’s 18th-seeded Josh Binstock/Richard Van Huizen, 21-13, 21-17 in 33 minutes.
Russia’s Bogatov/Prokopiev advanced with a first round win over Greece’s 25th-seeded Georgios Kotsilianos/Nikos Zoupanis in two sets and then finished their winning day with a three-set win over Australia’s 24th-seeded Chistopher McHugh/Joshua Slack, 21-19, 12-21 and 16-14 in 53 minutes.
Earning their position among the 32-main draw contenders was USA’s Keenan/Patterson who first beat France’s 21st-seeded Fabien Dugrip/Yannick Salvetti, who had qualified last week, and then the American’s eliminated France’s fifth-seeded brothers Andy and Kevin Ces in a 46-minute come-from-behind three-set match, 16-21, 21-19 and 15-9.
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as the eight of the last nine women’s gold medalists in Gstaad and the last eight men’s gold medal winners although five are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, the bronze to china’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang and fourth place to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Gstaad were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo (Bronze), and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (fourth place).
Besides last year’s gold medal winners Dalhausser/Rogers of the United States, who also won this event in 2007 to win their FIVB Swatch World Championship and Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann won this event in 2009. The other returning previous champions, representing five years are playing with different partners this year. Brazil’s Marcio Araujo won here in 2003 with Benjamin Insfran, Brazil’s Emanuel Rego won in 2005 and 2006 with Ricardo Santos, Switzerland’s Patrick Heuscher won here in 2004 with Stefan Kobel, and Brazil’s Harley Marques won here in 2008 with Pedro Salgado.
This year, Brazil’s Marcio Araujo is playing with Ricardo, Brazil’s Benjamin is playing with Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Brazil’s Emanuel is playing with Alison Cerutti, Switzerland’s Heuscher is playing with Jefferson Bellaguarda, and Brazil’s Salgado is playing this year with Rhooney Ferramenta. Brazil’s Harley played with Thiago Santos Barbosa and lost a country quota playoff match on Tuesday and was eliminated from the tournament. Besides Harley, the other former Gstaad champions that entered this year will be playing in Thursday’s main draw pool play.
A total of 162 teams from 40 countries (89 men’s teams from 33 countries and 73 women’s teams from 30 countries) are playing in the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam, including Angola (1 men, 0 women) Australia (2,3), Austria (5,3), Belarus (1,0), Belgium (2,1), Brazil (8,6), Bulgaria (0,1), Canada (3,3), China (2,3), Czech Republic (2,3), Denmark (1,0), Estonia (1,0), Finland (0,1), France (2,1), Georgia (1,1), Germany (6,8), Great Britain (1,2), Greece (2,2), Italy (5,3), Japan (2,2), Kazakhstan (2,1), Latvia (2,0), Mauritius (0,1), Mexico (0,1), Netherlands (5,4), New Zealand (1,0), Norway (3,1), Poland (2,2), Portugal (2,0), Russia (4,3), Slovak Republic (0,1), Slovenia (0,2), Spain (2,2), Sweden (1,2), Switzerland (7,4), Turkey (2,0), United States (4,5), Uruguay (1,0), Vanuatu (0,1), and Venezuela
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with one more Grand Slam double-gender event July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, the 225th women’s event and 264th men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.