Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 29, 2011 – With the last of three guaranteed pool play matches completed and the first round of single-elimination bracket play eliminating half of the men’s main draw field on Friday, 16 men’s teams are still standing tall and anxiously awaiting the round of 16 and quarterfinals Saturday as the week-long $600,000 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki winds down to its final two days on Saturday and Sunday.
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).
With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the winners of Friday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 Saturday followed by the quarterfinals to determine the men’s final four. On Sunday, the internationally televised men’s semifinals and medal matches will be played on the Hotel Anders center court.
Winning their respective pools were three teams from Germany and one each from Brazil, China, Poland, Russia and Switzerland.
The 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.
In the first round of single-elimination bracket played Friday early evening involving the other 16 teams that advanced from the two days of pool play, teams from 10 countries, including three teams each from Brazil, Switzerland and the United States. The eight teams from five countries who won first round elimination matches Friday were two each from Brazil, Switzerland and the United States, and one each from Germany and Italy.
In Friday’s first round of elimination matches played early evening involving the other 16 times, Italy’s 14th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai defeated Latvia’s 20th-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins, 21-18, 21-18 in 35 minutes, in an all-Brazilian match, 11th-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos beat compatriots Thiago Barbosa/Harley Marques in three sets, 17-21, 21-18 and 15-12 in 53 minutes, USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers overwhelmed Kazakhstan’s 26th-seeded Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, 21-15, 21-11 in 34 minutes and Brazil’s fifth-seeded Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran edged Netherland’s eighth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schull, 21-19, 21-19 in 39 minutes.
In the other four first round elimination matches Friday, Switzerland’s 25th-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart beat Norway’s 21st-seeded Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr, 21-16, 21019 in 34 minutes, Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher topped USA’s 19th-seeded Casey Jennings/Kevin Wong, 21-19, 21-17 in 43 minutes, 16th-seeded USA’s Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal swept Czech Republic’s 18th-seeded Petr Benes/Premsyl Kubala, 21-17, 21-19 in 35 minutes and Germany’s 13th-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik defeated Switzerland’s 27th-seeded Philip Gabathuler/Jan Schnider, 21-12, 23-21 in 34 minutes.
The eight teams that lost in the first men’s elimination bracket round Friday finished tied for 17th in Stare Jablonki 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 Poland with $3,500 per team.
The sixth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday. 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.
Winning their pools and earning the first round single-elimination bracket round byes with the opening match Saturday against the winners of the late Thursday matches between the other 16 teams the qualified for the final rounds are Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (Pool J), Germany’s 31st-seeded Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka (Pool K), Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (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), Germany’s 10th-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (Pool P) and Switzerland’s 24th-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer (Pool Q).
Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel and China’s Xu/Wu were undefeated at 3-0 in their respective pools while all the other teams won via the tie breakers with 2-1 records. Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel was the only pool winner who won all three of their matches without losing a set, going 6-0 in sets so far in Stare Jablonki.
In Friday’s round of 16 matchups, it will be Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel vs. Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo, an all-Germany battle between Bockermann/Urbatzka vs. Erdmann/Matysik, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann vs. Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Benjamin, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel vs. Switzerland’s Laciga/Weingart, Russia’s Koshakarev/Semenov vs. USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers, China’s Wu/Xu vs. Switzerland’s Bellaguarda/Heuscher, Germany’s Klemperer/Koreng vs. USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal and Switzerland’s Chevallier/Heyer vs. Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo.
After starting pool play with two losses on Thursday, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers, the defend Mazury Orlen Grand Slam champions, bounced back on Friday, winning their final pool play match to earn the final elimination-rounds slot from their pool and then won their first round elimination match. To earn their spot in the single-elimination bracket round, a very focused Dalhausser/Rogers defeated Latvia’s 15th-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilous/Ruslans Sorokins, 21-17, 21-13 in 39 minutes. In their first round elimination match they beat the surprising team from Kazakhstan in two sets.
Following their two wins Friday, Rogers, who with Dalhausser won the 2008 Olympic championships as well as the 2010 FIVB Swatch World Tour season title, commented, “Yesterday was just one of those days that you can have, but fortunately we were able to bounce back today and still alive here in Poland. We like this event and are the defending champions but it hasn’t been easy. We made a lot of mistakes yesterday and while we’re confident enough in our ability to not play ‘desperate’, we know what we had to do against the Latvians and we reduced our error significantly and got the job done.”
“Against the Kazakhstan team, took control immediately and never let up. It was a good effort for us and now we face a very tough and talented and very young Russian team. We just need to take care of ourselves and we’ll be okay.”
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/Jonas 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.
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 venue 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.