Klagenfurt, Austria, August 2, 2011 – Soaking in the blazing sunshine, blue skies, and near-perfect weather of an Austrian summer day, two teams from Germany battled through a country quota playoff match to advance one team Tuesday to the men’s qualification tournament on Wednesday at the $600,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.
The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are back in Austria as the double-gender event marks the 15th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 14 previous men’s events and 10 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB Swatch World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.
Advancing from the all-German battle to move into Wednesday’s single-elimination qualification tournament was Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif.
One of the most popular events of many ‘favorite’ events on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, the Klagenfurt venue features a fan-friendly purpose-built 8,000-seat center court stadium and massive two-story VIP hospitality area alongside the shore of spectacularly beautiful Lake Woerth in western Klagenfurt, which is located in southern Austria.
The men’s single-elimination qualification tournament Wednesday will determine 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 last of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt began with women’s country quota matches on Monday and continued with the women’s 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.
Germany’s Dollinger/Windscheif defeated compatriots Markus Bockermann/Mischa Urbatzka in Tuesday’s lone country quota playoff match in a three-setter on one of Klagenfurt’s outer courts, 21-11, 18-21 and 15-13 in a 53-minute match.
This with the fifth country quota playoff match between these same two German teams this season and with the win, Dollinger/Windscheif take a 3-2 lead in the playoffs as the two evenly-matched teams have alternated winning this difficult and crucial advancement matches.
Dollinger/Windscheif are competing in their 22nd FIVB Swatch World Tour match together and their season highs were a ninth in the Moscow Grand Slam in July and a ninth at the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships in Rome in June. Their best grand slam finishes as a team was a fifth in the 2010 Moscow Grand Slam and the ninth in Russia this year.
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 Klagenfurt 12 of the previous 14 years and seven of the previous women’s gold medal winners. Three 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 Klagenfurt were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), USA’s Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena (Silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (Bronze) and Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (fourth place).
Brazil’s Emanuel Rego has won six times with three different partners in Klagenfurt and this year Emanuel is playing with Alison Cerutti. The amazing Emanuel won here the first four years of the tournament, starting in 1997 with Ze Marco de Melo and the next three years (1998, 1999 and 2000) with Jose Loiola. Emanuel’s next two wins were both with Ricardo Santos (2004 and 2007).
While Ze Marco and Loiola are retired, Ricardo is paired for the second straight event this season with Pedro Cunha. Besides last year, USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers won in Klagenfurt in 2009 and 2006. Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran, are back in their second FIVB Swatch World Tour event as team again, having won the gold medal in Klagenfurt in 2003 in the midst of their first partnership of over nine years. Russia’s Dmitri Barsouk won this event win in 2008 with Igor Kolodinsky but this year he has been teamed with Yury Bogatov.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to Brazil’s Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima, the bronze was won by Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig and fourth place to Austria’s own Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli. This year all but Cunha/Lima are still playing as last year’s silver medalists were eliminated in a country quota playoff match on Monday.
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa also won the Klagenfurt gold medal in 2009. The other Klagenfurt gold medal team back this year is USA’s two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh who struck gold here together four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and Walsh also won here in 2004 with Rachel Wacholder.
A total of 158 teams from 42 countries (88 men’s teams from 33 countries and 70 women’s teams from 30 countries) have entered the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, including Angola (1 men’s team, 0 women’s teams), Argentina (1,0), Australia (2,3), Austria (6,8), Belarus (1,0), Belgium (0,1), Brazil (8,5), Bulgaria (0,1), Canada (4,3), China (2,3), Czech Republic (3,3), Denmark (2,0), Estonia (1,0), Finland (0,1), France (2,0), Georgia (1,1), Germany (5,6), Great Britain (4,1), Greece (1,2), Italy (5,3), Japan (2,2), Kazakhstan (2,1), Latvia (3,1), Mauritius (0,1), Mexico (0,1), Netherlands (5,4), New Zealand (1,0), Norway (3,1), Poland (1,0), Portugal (2,0), Russia (3,2), Slovak Republic (0,2), Slovenia (0,2), Spain (2,2), Sweden (1,1), Switzerland (4,2), Turkey (2,0), Ukraine (0,1), United States (5,5), Uruguay (1,0), Vanuatu (0,1), and Venezuela (2,0).
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 A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour takes a week off for the 24-team women’s only Olympic test event in London’s Horse Guard’s Parade. Following that event, Europe hosts the final two double-gender open events of 2011 in Aland, Finland from August 15-21 and The Hague, Netherlands from August 23-28. The FIVB will then present the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old, August 31-September 4 in Halifax, Canada.
The $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011 is the 229th women’s event and 268th 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 Klagenfurt venue 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.beachvolleyball.at.