Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 27, 2011 – As summer rain poured down for the majority of the day Wednesday at the Hotel Anders venue in remote northeastern Poland, the glow of competition on soggy courts for the first two of three rounds of women’s 32-team main draw pool play matches saw 11 teams from five countries go undefeated heading into Thursday’s final round of round-robin pool play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011.
Leading their respective pools with 2-0 records are three teams from Brazil, two from Germany, and one each from China, the Netherlands and the United States. The 32 teams in the women’s main draw have been divided into eight pools of four teams each playing three round-robin matches over two days.
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 in began in 2004. Stare Jablonki is a village of just 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.
On Thursday, the women finish pool play with single matches that will determine the 24 teams that will head into the final single-elimination bracket play phase of the tournament. With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the other 16 teams will play their first round on Thursday. On Friday, the winners of Friday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 followd by the quarterfinals to determine the women’s final four. On Saturday, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on the Hotel Anders center court.
Leading their pools after the first day of round robin pool play with 2-0 records are Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca (Pool A), USA’s second-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (Pool B), China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang (Pool C), Brazil’s fourth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes (Pool D), Germany’s 12th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler (Pool E), Brazil’s 11th-seeded sisters Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado (Pool F), Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (Pool G) and Netherland’s eighth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel (Pool H). Pool leaders Juliana/Larissa/ May-Treanor/Walsh, Xue/Zhang and Antonellie/Antunes won both of their matches without losing a set, each going 4-0 for the day.
Also undefeated but second in their respective pools because of tie-break rules are Switzerland’s 15th-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr (Pool A), Czech Republic’s 16th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova (Pool B), and Italy’s sixth-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti (Pool F).
The reigning FIVB Swatch World Champions who have won four world tour events this year and lead the season point and money standings, Juliana/Larissa, who took last week off when the tour visited Quebec, Canada, maneuvered through two matches with relative ease, first defeating USA’s 17th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson, 21-18, 21-11 in 35 minutes of pouring rain. In the late afternoon they played their second match in light sprinkles of rain on the Hotel Anders center court, impressing the home-country fans as they beat Poland’s 32nd-seeded Aneta Gancarczyk/Sylwia Pilarek, 21-12, 21-9 in just 26 minutes. Juliana/Larissa increased their world tour season record to 48-7.
Awing the appreciative crowd with their quick performance, Juliana/Larissa, the defending champions here in Stare Jablonki, pleased the Anders center court even more as they left the sand by acknowledging a physically challenged young boy who had a special courtside seat for thier match. Juliana actually gave the young boy a big hug of gratitude and gave him the visor she wore during the match in a spontaneous touching moment for all.
Reflecting on their two, two-set pool play wins, Juliana commented, “In the first match, we started a little slow, but after the middle I started playing harder and we got it done kind of quickly after that. In the second match, we started out faster against a very young Polish team. When we felt we had it under control after the start of the second set, we started preparing for our next match by trying different things on the court, using different moves and getting some more practice. It was really refreshing last week to go home to Brazil for a week, rest, training and seeing family, friends and even celebrating my birthday. We’re on the road a long time and the tournaments wear on your body and mind. Now we’re refreshed and ready to go for several more weeks and hopefully reach our goal of winning another tour championship.”
Also taking last week off while the tour was in Canada to visit family and get in some training session for part of the week, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, two-time Olympic and three-time FIVB Swatch World Champions, eased their way back into tournament action with a pair of two-set pool plays wins Wednesday. In the rainy morning match, they beat Greece’s 18th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani, 21-16, 21-16 in 39 minutes and backed that up with a 21-11, 21-10 win over Switzerland’s 31st-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Joana Heidrich in just 25 minutes, the quickest women’s match of the day. There were only light sprinkles during their second win of the day.
May-Treanor/Walsh, who increased their season record to 39-8 with the twin wins, defeated Juliana/Larissa in Moscow two weeks ago in the gold medal match in their last tournament to give the Americans two gold medals so far in their reunion season.
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, continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team 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.
The talented field this year 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.
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.
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.
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.