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Morocco Open | Men
  4/10/2011 - 9/10/2011

Top five qualification advances to main draw in Agadir

Andy (left) and Kevin Ces from France advanced to the main draw
Agadir, Morocco, October 5, 2011 – The top five teams of the qualification tournament on Wednesday all made it to the main draw of the first edition of the FIVB Swatch World Tour Morocco Open. After only one country quota match on Tuesday it was time for some real action on the sunny beaches of Agadir. A total of 33 teams from around 20 different countries competed in the qualification for the first World Tour event ever in Morocco, also the final tournament of the 2011 World Tour season.

Top seeded Martin Laciga and Jonas Weingart from Switzerland started out with a tough three sets 21-16 20-22 15-6) against Italy’s Matteo Cecchini and Raffaele Cionna (33rd). In their second match they seemed ‘warmed up’ on the soaring hot centre court in the Moroccan beach town and eliminated 16th seeded Czechs Jan Dumek and Martin Tichy (21-18 21-16).

Sweden’s Stefan Gunnarson and Hannes Brinkborg only needed four sets to advance to the main draw. The second seeded team first eliminated home team Abdelillah Akazou and Mostapha Hamsi (21-11 21-8), then did the same with Ukraine’s Mykola Babich and Oleksandr Ioisher (21-18 21-17). Both matches were on centre court. “It was pretty hot, especially our last game. That is why we like to play qualification. We need that warm-up to perform well”, Gunnarsson joked. Their best finish so far was fifth in Quebec this year. Brinkborg: “We hope to get a good finish here and score some points, because we are still outside the olympic list and hope to move up a little.”

Andy and Kevin Ces, seeded fifth, earned a spot in the main draw by beating Sweden’s Manne and Marten Norman (21-14 21-18) and Austria’s Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl (20-22 21-13 15-12). The French brothers prepared for Agadir with their new coach Marco Solustri from Italy. Andy (29) and Kevin (31) have been playing together on the World Tour since 2007 winning only one medal, silver in Manama in 2008. “We have been playing very consistent, but that has not been good enough”, Kevin said. “We needed to change something. We tried to change ourselves, our national coach tried, but that did not work. So we decided to hire a private coach.”

They knew Solustri, who has been training other international teams for years, very well. “We practiced at his facility in Italy, trained with his teams.” His job ended and the three of them decided to try. Andy: “He makes us play more simple. It is not that we never heard the things he says before, but somehow the puzzle fits. I do not want to give away all our secrets, but we have made progress.” The brothers are paying Solustri out of their own pocket, but there is a chance that next season the national federation will pitch in.

Also advancing to the main draw were the Italian twins Matteo and Paolo Ingrosso (3rd seeded), Jason Lochhead and Kirk Pitman (4th) from New Zealand, Dutch Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (7th), Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz (8th) from Poland and Yury Bogatov and Serguei Prokopiev (11th). The Russians surprisingly eliminated Australia’s sixth seeded Christopher McHugh and Josh Slack in three sets.

All three Moroccan teams in qualification were eliminated. That leaves the host country with three teams in the main draw. For all players it will be their first appearance in the main draw of a World Tour event. Besides Morocco there is no other African country competing in the main draw. Morais Abreu and Mario Silva from Angola started in the qualification tournament but were eliminated.

It is the first time ever that the FIVB Swatch World Tour stops in Morocco. The north-African country did host three challengers earlier, in Casablanca in 2004, 2005 and 2006. South Africa is the only other African nation who hosted World Tour events – in 1995, 2004 and 2005 in Cape Town and in Durban in 1996.

The $190.000 single gender Morocco Open is the 14th and final men’s event of the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour. The women finish next month with their 16th event in Phuket, Thailand.   
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