Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 26, 2011 – Enjoying but not distracted by the relaxed setting of the Hotel Anders resort and spa venue in northeastern Poland, one team each from Brazil, Germany and the United States advanced Tuesday to the men’s qualification tournament on Wednesday at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011.
The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are back in Poland as the double-gender event marks the eighth consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch world tour with Stare Jablonki hosting seven previous men’s events and three previous women’s events. This is also the second year it has been a grand slam instead of an open event. Overall, this is the 10th men’s event held in Poland (Myslowice hosted in 2009, 2010), and eighth women’s event held in Poland (Myslowice hosted in 2008 and this year and Warsaw in 2006, 2007).
Advancing for Brazil was the duo of Thiago Santos Barbosa/Harley Marques, while Germany’s tandem advancing will be Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka and moving into Wednesday’s single-elimination qualification tournament from the USA will be Brad Keenan/Casey Patterson.
Hotel Anders resort and spa in the Mazury region of northeast Poland has hosted this event since the event began in 2004. Stare Jablonki is a village of 750 permanent residents that swells to over 30,000 for the week of this event and the Mazury region is known throughout Europe for having more than 1,000 lakes. The smallest population area the FIVB Swatch World Tour visits every year, the Hotel Anders event has a history of drawing among the largest of all crowds annually on the tour.
The men’s single-elimination qualification tournament Wednesday will determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw that will start on 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 Friday afternoon’s 24-team single elimination bracket phase of the tournament.
The sixth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011 began with women’s country quota matches on Monday and continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team women’s main draw on Wednesday through Friday. After pool play ends Friday, the top 24 teams will advance to single-elimination bracket play. 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.
With all of the country playoff matches going three sets and lasting 50 minutes or more, advancing from the all-Brazilian country quota match, Barbosa/Marques who came from behind to defeat compatriots Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, 11-21, 21-19 and 15-13 in 53 minutes. The German playoff saw Bockermann/Urbatzka overcome countrymen Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif, 21-17, 19-21 and 15-10 in 50 minutes.
In the most surprising country elimination match of all, Keenan/Patterson came from behind to stun Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena, 13-21, 21-18 and 15-13 in another 53-minute match. Fuerbringer/Lucena just last week had won the silver medal in Quebec City, Canada, but were relegated to the country quota playoffs this week.
Following his team’s three-set win, veteran Marques said, “Maciel and Bruno might be just back together again since last week, but they played like they haven’t been apart at all. These country quota playoffs are so intense and there is so much pressure because you can’t even get into the qualification tournament without going through this furnaces so it is always very tough and we’re happy to have won this time. I had a few good serves in the match, especially in the second set and the tiebreaker and Thiago had some of his normal great work at the net, but it really could have gone either way after we got beat in the first set.”
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as at least one member of the men’s gold medal teams in Stare Jablonki and the last two women’s gold medal winners. Six of the men’s gold medal teams are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Stare Jablonki were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonasa Reckermann (Silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (Bronze) and Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (fourth place).
Brazil’s Emanuel Rego, who has won in Stare Jablonki four times with Ricardo Santos (2004, 2006, 2007,and 2008) but this year Emanuel is playing with Alison Cerutti, and Ricardo is paired for the first time this season with Pedro Cunha. Switzerland’s Martin Laciga, who won here in 2005 with Markus Egger, is playing this time with Jonas Weingart. Brazil’s Benjamin Insfran, who won here in 2009 with Pedro Salgado, is playing his first tournament back with longtime teammate Marcio Araujo here in Poland.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang bronze to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes and fourth place to Austria’s Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli.
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa also won the Stare Jablonki gold medal in 2009.
A total of 160 teams from 40 countries (86 men’s teams from 32 countries and 74 women’s teams from 32 countries) have entered the FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011, including Angola (1 men’s team, 0 women’s teams), Australia (2,3), Austria (4,2), Belarus (1,0), Belgium (0,1), Brazil (8,6), Bulgaria (0,1), Canada (4,3), China (2,3), Czech Republic (2,2), Denmark (1,0), Estonia (1,1), Finland (0,1), France (2,3), Georgia (1,1), Germany (5,6), Great Britain (4,2), Greece (2,2), Italy (4,2), Japan (2,2), Kazakhstan (2,1), Latvia (3,2), Mexico (0,1), Netherlands (5,4), New Zealand (1,0), Norway (3,1), Poland (2,4), Portugal (2,0), Puerto Rico (0,1), Russia (3,3), Slovak Republic (0,1), Slovenia (0,2), Spain (2,3), Sweden (1,2), Switzerland (4,3), Turkey (2,0), Ukraine (0,1), United States (5,4), Uruguay (1,0), and Venezuela (4,0).
The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour 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 $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour has its last of six 2011 Grand Slam double-gender events in Klagenfurt, Austria (A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank Klagenfurt 2011). Each grand slam had $600,000 purses and the other major event this year, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships in Rome had a $1 million total purse.
The $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011 is the 228th women’s event and 267th 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. While this is the 25th year that the FIVB has sanctioned international pro beach volley events, it is the 23rd year of the men’s and 20th year of the women’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Also on-site this week at the Hotel Anders this week is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of select matches, but also the weekly FIVB Swatch World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit www.fivb.org or visit the event website at www.worldtour.pl.