Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 27, 2011 – As rain continued to pour down on the Hotel Anders venue in remote northeastern Poland, eight happily-soaked teams from seven countries fought through the challenge of two qualification round matches among 29 teams Wednesday to advance to the 32-team men’s main draw which starts Thursday at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011.
The seven countries that advanced from the qualifying matches Wednesday to start men’s main draw pool play on Thursday include Switzerland with two teams along with Australia, Austria, Brazil, Georgia, Germany and Kazakhstan.
FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour
Stare Jablonki Grand Slam, Poland | July 25-31
Men | Women
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).
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 determined 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 eight teams from seven countries who have earned the right to play three more matches over two more days of pool play are Australia’s 13th-seeded qualification team, Christopher McHugh/Joshua Slack, Austria’s 12th-seeded Alexander Horst/Daniel Mullner, Brazil’s top-seeded qualification team Thiago Barbosa/Harley Marques, Georgia’s second-seeded Renato Gomes/Jorge Terceiro, Germany’s 25th-seeded Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka, Kazakhstan’s 19th-seeded Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, along Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart and Switzerland’s 11th-seeded Philip Gabathuler/Jan Schnider.
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.
Having to play in a country quota playoff match on Tuesday just to get into the qualification tournament, Brazil’s Harley Marques/Thiago Barbosa had a first round bye as the top seed in the Wednesday’s qualifier and then advanced to the main draw by defeating Norway’s 17th-seeded qualification team of Olvind Hordvik/Iver Horrem, 21-17, 22-20 in 39 minutes.
“It’s really hard to play in the country quota playoffs just to get into the qualification tournament, like I said yesterday,” said Marques. “But the good thing is we had the bye in country quota and today we got it in the qualifier and I think that helped us be a little bit fresher than we would have been had we had two play twice each day. Thiago and I have a good feeling going right now, but now it really gets tough in the main draw but in grand slam we have at least three more opportunities to play which is a good thing for a team like ours that is still learning to play together and understand each other better on the court.”
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 have been competing in the FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011, including Angola, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
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.