Klagenfurt, Austria, August 3, 2011 – As blue skies and brilliant Austrian summer sunshine rained down on the Klagenfurt venue, action on the six competition courts turned the burner up a notch as eight teams from seven countries fought through two qualification round matches among 29 teams Wednesday to advance to the 32-team men’s main draw which starts Thursday 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.
The seven countries that advanced from the qualifying matches Wednesday to start men’s pool play on Thursday include Switzerland with two teams along with Brazil, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Kazakhstan, and the United States.
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 and is known as one of Austria’s top summer holiday destinations.
The men’s single-elimination qualification tournament Wednesday determined 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 eight teams from seven countries (along with their qualification tournament seed) who have earned the right to play three more matches over two more days of pool play are Brazil’s second-seeded Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Estonia’s 12th-seeded Karl Jaani/Rivo Vesik, Georgia’s top-seeded Renato Gomes/Jorge Terceiro, Italy’s 14th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Kazakhstan’s 20th-seeded Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, Switzerland’s sixth-seeded Martin Laciga/Jonas Weingart, Switzerland’s 10th-seeded Philip Bagathuler/Jan Schnider and USA’s ninth-seeded Casey Jennings/Kevin Wong.
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.
Georgia’s Gomes/Terceiro and Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt both had first round byes in the qualification tournament and advanced by winning their second round matches. Georgia’s Gomes/Terceiro moved forward by defeating Canada’s 16th-seeded Christian Redmann/Ben Saxton in straight sets, 21-19, 21-16 in 39 minutes while Brazil’s Maciel/Schmidt advanced with their two-set win over Russia’s 18th-seeded Dmitri Barsouk/Yury Bogatov in two sets, 21-16, 21-16 in 40 minutes. Barsouk won the gold medal in Klagenfurt in 2008 with Igor Kolodinsky.
Among the teams to advance by winning two rounds was USA’s ninth-seeded Casey Jennings/Kevin Wong, who started the season together but then missed four tournament before returning to the tour together last week in Poland, where they got a main draw wild card for winning the first world tour event together in The Hague, Netherlands, last August. They finished 17th in Poland and even defeated Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann in pool play. Wednesday, they opened their day in Klagenfurt by defeating Netherland’s 24th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, 21-15, 15-21 and 15-10 in 47 minutes. They later advanced to the main draw with a Klagenfurt center court win over Spain’s eighth-seeded Inocencio Lario/Raul Mesa, 21-14, 21-17 in 37 minutes.
Jennings, who is married to USA women’s star Kerri Walsh, commented following his team’s second win of the day to advance to Thursday’s main draw pool play, “I’m very fortunate to have Kevin back. He needed to refuel. We played great today and Spain especially is a very good team we were able to beat in two sets. We missed four tournaments together, but we both have been training hard and it show last week in Poland and today here in Klagenfurt. We are veterans and we know we are capable of putting together a good run for the balance of the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour.”
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 entered the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, including Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, 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 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.