Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 30, 2011 – Hitting their groves after country quota matches, qualification tournament, main draw pool play and then three rounds of the single-elimination bracket phase, rugged men’s beach volleyball teams from Brazil, Germany, Poland and the United States have survived the challenge Saturday to earn spots in Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches as the week-long $600,000 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki, a double-gender event on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour concludes.
Winning the dramatic quarterfinal matches early Saturday evening in front of over 6,000 celebratory fans on the Hotel Anders center court and court 2 were Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego, USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, Poland’s fourth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and Germany’s 13th-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik.
The world’s best beach volleyball tandems have returned to Poland this week 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). Earlier on Saturday, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta/Silva/Larissa Franca captured their third straight women’s gold medal in Stare Jablonki.
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.
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.
On Sunday, the men’s semifinals will start in the late morning and continue through the medal matches in the late afternoon on the Hotel Anders center court stadium. The matchups for the men’s semifinals will have Brazile’s Alison/Emanuel vs. USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers and the other semifinal will feature Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel vs. Germany’s Erdmann/Matysik.
In Saturday’s quarterfinal matches, Brazil’s top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego won the all-Brazilian match over 11th-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos, 21-19, 21-16 in 39 minutes, USA’s second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers literally outlasted Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann in the longest match of the tournament so far at 68 minutes, 21-18, 24-26 and 15-12, Poland’s fourth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel overwhelmed Switzerland’s seventh-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher, 21-18, 21-12 in 36 minutes and Germany’s 13th-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik came from behind in another three-setter to defeat USA’s 16th-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal, 19-21, 31-29 and 15-13 in 61 minutes.
Even though they have played with each other in the past, this was the first meeting for these two Brazilian teams and USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers now lead the series with Germany’s Brink/Reckermann, 8-4, but their win broke a three game losing streak for the Americans against the top German team.
Poland’s Fijalek/Mariusz increased their FIVB career record against Switzerland’s Bellaguarda/Heuscher to 3-1, all this season as the Swiss are playing their first season together. Germany’s Erdmann/Matysik now have a 2-0 FIVB career record against USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Poland with $13,200 in prize money.
Previewing the semifinals, in another anticipated battle of two of the sport’s top teams, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers have an 8-3 series edge over Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel. There only three previous meetings this year have been in gold medal matches with the American’s winning the season-opener in Brazil, and the Brazilians taking the next two in Prague, Czech Republic and in Gstaad, Switzerland three weeks ago.
Poland’s home-country favorites Fijalek/Prudel, who have made the final four the fourth time in the last six world tour stops, have a 2-0 FIVB career record against Germany’s Erdmann/Matysik, who have made their first final four on the world tour as a team, including a two-set pool play win for Poland earlier this week in Stare Jablonki.
With their quarterfinal victories, Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel increased their 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour record to 51-5, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers is now 49-12, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel is 32-15 and Germany’s Erdmann/Matysik are 23-20.
A philosophical Emanuel, Brazil’s 38-year legendary ambassador of the sport, said after their second win on Saturday, “I’m still playing and I’m still having fun and I try to do things different each year and what we are doing is certainly working. But every time we play against a Brazilian opponent it is very emotional and we know each other so well, I mean I played with Ricardo for nine years and now he is my opponent on the other side of the net, as an example.
“Alison and I are continuing to learn how to play together more each match and every tournament. We are very, very focused right now and I think it shows. We are fighting for the 2012 London Olympics and there will only be two teams from Brazil and we want to be one of them.”
After losing a very close second set that went overtime, 24-26, USA’s Dalhausser commented on his team’s quarterfinal against Germany’s Brink/Reckermann saying, “It was one tough match, but they almost always are when the two of us get together. We were playing so close it was a might of who made the mistakes and in the tiebreaker, they made them and we sized the day, so to speak. After losing our first two matches on a center court, we have now won three straight on court 2, whatever that means. Whatever it was that first day in pool play, I think we have gotten rid of it and the last three wins help prove it.”
In Saturday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each split $8,000 in prize money.
In Saturday’s round of 16 matches, Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel beat Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo, Erdmann/Matysik won an all-German battle between 31st-seeded Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka, Germany’s Brink/Reckermann defeated Brazil’s fifth-seeded Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel won over Switzerland’s 25th-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers held off Russia’s Koshakarev/Semenov, Switzerland’s Bellaguarda/Heuscher upset China’s sixth-seeded Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu, USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal defeated Germany’s 10th-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng and Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo topped Switzerland’s 24th-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer.
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.