Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 28, 2011 – On a day with several upsets during the completion of the first two of three rounds in the men’s 32-team main draw pool play matches Thursday, eight teams from eight countries emerged unscathed heading into Friday’s final round of round-robin pool play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play at the $600,000 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki.
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).
Leading their respective pools with 2-0 records are teams from Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. The 32 teams in the men’s main draw have been divided into eight pools of four teams each playing three round-robin matches over two days.
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.
On Friday, the men 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 four on Friday. On Saturday, the winners the winner’s of Friday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 followed by the quarterfinals to determine the men’s final four. On Sunday, the internationally-televised men’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 Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (Pool J), Czech Republic’s 18th-seeded Petr Benes/Premsyl Kubala (Pool K), Italy’s 14th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai (Pool L), Poland’s fourth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (Pool M), Russia’s 12th-seeded Yaroslav Koshakarev/Kanstanin Semenov (Pool N), China’s sixth-seeded Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu (Pool O), Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher (Pool P) and Netherland’s eighth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil (Pool Q). Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel were the only pool play leaders who won both of their matches without losing a set, each going 4-0 in sets for the day.
The sixth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, 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. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishing teams will each receive $18,400.
The most notable of Thursday’s men’s pool play action saw USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers lose twice to teams with significantly lower seeds. The defending Mazury Orlen Grand Slam champions and 2008 Olympic champions started the day losing to Germany’s 31st-seeded Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka, 21-16, 21-17 in 33 minutes in the first meeting between the teams as the German duo nearly always has to play in a country quota playoff and seldom advances from the qualification tournament even if they win their country quota playoff.
The American’s second Hotel Anders center court loss of the day came at the hands of Czech Republic’s 18th-seeded Petr Benes/Premsyl Kubala who evened their all-time record at 2-2 against Dalhausser/Rogers with a three-set win in 58 minutes, 23-21, 19-21 and 16-14.
In another major pool play upset, USA’s 19th-seeded Casey Jennings/Kevin Wong, who didn’t play the last five events together, split their two matches Thursday but the stunner was a come-from-behind three-set win over Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann, 16-21, 21-19 and 15-11 in 53 minutes. Germany’s Brink/Reckermann won the silver medal in Stare Jablonki last year.
Returning to the FIVB Swatch World Tour after taking last week off, Brazil’s newly-crowned FIVB Swatch World Championships Alison/Emanuel won both their matches. In the first match of the day on the Hotel Anders center court, the Brazilians were extended to three sets before beating Brazilian compatriots and 17th-seeded Thiago Barbosa/Harley Marques, 21-18, 16-21, 15-10 in 48 minutes. In the afternoon, Alison/Emanuel beat Portugal’s 32nd-seeded Luis Maiai/Pedro Rosas, 21-18, 21-13 in 34 minutes to finish their day undefeated.
Pleasing the Hotel Anders center court home country fans, Poland’s popular Fijalek/Prudel handled teams from Austria and Latvia in two-sets each. First they swept Austria’s 29th-seeded Daniel Mullner/Alexander Horst, 21-12, 21-10 in 32 minutes. The capped their flag-waving day with a late afternoon win over Latvia’s 20th-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins, 22-20, 21-15 as nearly 3,000 fans cheered them on to double victories.
After their second win, Poland’s Prudel commented, “In our second match today, we were playing a stronger team than in the first one this morning. Our opponents from Austria made a lot of mistakes and help us win the first one. The team from Latvia is a team from the highest level of beach volleyball and we had many more problems with them. The important thing is that after a bad start, we were able to win the match in two sets. The Latvians received the ball well and finished a lot of attacks. We were trying to secure the back of the court. With good blocking, it brought good results for us. It’s important to know that during an attack or a block, we have someone behind, who will help when something goes wrong. Gregorz and I really helped each other today, especially in our second win against the Latvians.”
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 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, 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 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, 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 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam 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.