Gstaad, Switzerland, July 7, 2011—It’s never easy to leave a place you like, but in the case of Gstaad Thursday, 16 women’s teams were forced to bid “Uf Widrluaga” to this magical valley nestled in the Swiss Alps as pool play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play sent 16 of the 32-team main draw tandems away from the majestic mountains and this quaint village at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems are in 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. 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 Swatch World Tour stop is held at every year.
With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the winners of Thursday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 followed by the quarterfinals to determine the women’s final four. On Saturday, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on the Gstaad center court.
Winning their respective pools were teams from Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
In the first round of single-elimination bracket played Thursday late afternoon involving the other 16 teams that advanced from the two days of pool play, teams from six countries, including three tandems from Brazil, won to advance to Saturday’s round of 16.
In Thursday’s first round of elimination matches, Brazil’s sixth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes beat Austria’s 23rd-seeded Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli, 21-10, 21-10 in 29 minutes; Brazil’s 16th-seeded Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima defeated Australia’s 19th-seeded Louse Bawden/Becchara Palmer in a three-set struggle, 16-21, 26-24 and 15-11 in 55 minutes; Greece’s 18th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani eliminated Germany’s 20th-seeded Jana Kohler/Julia Sude, 21-18, 21-16 in 42 minutes and USA’s top-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross overwhelmed Canada’s 25th-seeded Marie-Andree Lessard/Annie Martin, 21-12, 21-12 in 31 minutes.
In the second four first round elimination matches, Brazil’s 12th-seeded sisters Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado upset Germany’s eighth-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, 21-18, 21-15 in 39 minutes; Germany’s 15th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler were pushed to the limit, but beat Austria’s 13th-seeded Schwaiger sisters Doris and Stefanie, 21-11, 21-12 and 15-11 in 44 minutes; Czech Republic’s 14th-seeded Hana Klapalova/Lenka Hajeckova eliminated Russia’s 27th-seeded Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova, 21-17, 21-16 in 35 minutes; and Spain’s 28th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez overcame the strong effort by Finland’s 26th-seeded sisters Emilia and Erika Nystrom, defeating them 29-27, 19-21 and 15-11 in 52 minutes.
The eight teams that lost in the first women’s elimination bracket round Thursday finished tied for 17th in Gstaad and each will split $5,100 in prize money. The eight teams eliminated in pool play each finished tied for 25th in the tournament and leave Gstaad with $3,500 per team.
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, the winning pairs in Gstaad will each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
The eight winners in the first elimination round now advance to meet the pool play winners in the round of 16 on Friday. Later on Friday will be the quarterfinal matches between the winners of the round of 16 to determine the final four for Saturday’s women’s semifinals and medal matches.
Winning their pools and earning the first round single-elimination bracket round byes with their opening match Friday against the winners of the late Thursday matches between the other 16 teams that qualified for the final rounds were: Czech Republic’s 17th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, USA’s third-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, Netherland’s fourth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, Italy’s fifth-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti, Germany’s 22nd-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, China’s seventh-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang and Switzerland’s ninth-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr.
In Friday’s round of 16 matchups it will be Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova vs. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes, Germany’s Borger/Buthe vs. Brazil’s Cunha/Lima, China’s Xue/Zhang vs. Greece’s Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel vs. USA’s Kessy Ross, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh vs. Brazil’s Salgado sisters, Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti vs. Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler, Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr vs. Czech Republic’s Klapalova/Hajeckova, and Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa vs. Spain’s Baquerizo/Fernandez.
Seven of the eight pool winners were undefeated in three of their matches—Czech Republic’s Kolocolva/Slukova, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel, Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti, China’s Xue/Zhang and Switzerland’s Kuhne/Zumkehr.
Germany’s Borger/Buthe, who had to win a country quota playoff match on Monday, two qualification matches on Tuesday and ended up tied in pool play at 2-1 with Russia’s 27th-seeded Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova, winning their pool via tie-breaker rules.
Kolocova/Slukova, Cicolari/Menegatti, and Xue/Zhang not only were undefeated in their respective pools, they also won them without losing a set, each going 6-0 for their three matches.
After their elimination round victory over Germany’s Goller/Ludwig, Brazil’s Carolina Salgado, who with sister Maria Clara now have a 5-6 FIVB career record against the Germans, commented, “Last week we lost against Goller/Ludwig in Stavanger and today it was revenge. And it worked! We are very happy about it because we know how good they can play. I admire them, they are great. We are also friends, but is normal that you play against players you like. You just have to turn off your sympathies before the game and concentrate on your job.”
The 32 teams in the main draw were split into eight pools of four teams each playing three round-robin matches and the top three finishers in each advancing to the single-elimination bracket rounds.
Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr broke a tie in their pool, pleasing their home-country fans in the process winning it with a final victory Thursday over Germany’s Goller/Ludwig, 21-16, 13-21 and 17-15 in 56 minutes.
After defeating Goller/Ludwig for the first time in five career FIVB Swatch World Tour meetings and receiving a first round bye in the elimination rounds, Switzerland’s Kuhn said, “This was a tough job, getting our first world tour win over Goller/Ludwig and having this great audience here is great and helped us push even harder. Fortunately, we don’t have any more matches today so we will have time for our familes and friends. We are striving to finish better than ninth place which has happened nine times in our FIVB career and the last two years here in Gstaad.”
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa earned their first round qualification round bye with their last pool play win avenging a pool play loss in Stavanger to Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler. On Thursday in Gstaad, it still took three sets, but unlike in Stavanger, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa came from behind to prevail, 21-23, 21-10 and 15-11 in 47 minutes.
After two wins Wednesday including an upset of USA’s top-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova closed out pool play undefeated by beating Norway’s 32nd-seeded Kathrine Maaseide/Ingrid Torlen, 22-20, 22-20 in 41 minutes.
USA’s Kessy/Ross, the current 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour point leaders, came back to win their final pool play match and advance with a 2-1 record, defeating Brazil’s Cunha/ Lima, 26-24, 21-15 in 41 minutes..
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, three-time defending FIVB Swatch World Tour season point champions defending event winners and podium finishers in Gstaad for the last five consecutive years, flexed their muscles during Wednesday’s pool play. Bronze medal winners last week in Stavanger, Juliana/Larissa first defeated Switzerland’s 31st-seeded Isabella Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, 21-16, 21-18 in 29 minutes and in their second match beat Greece’s 18th-seeded Vasiliki Arvanita/Maria Tsiartsiani, 21-19, 21-10 in 35 minutes.
USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh capped their undefeated pool play to claim their elimination bracket first round bye, going three sets to defeat Czech Republic’s Klapalova/Hajeckova, 21-14, 15-21 and 15-11 in 40 minutes.
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.
Representing eight years, the three returning women’s gold medal winners in Gstaad are Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa (2005 and 2010), Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes (2009) and Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007). May-Treanor/Walsh’s victory in 2007 was for their third FIVB Swatch World Championship.
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).
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 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad 2011, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.