Sanya, China, April 25, 2012 — Following three rounds of qualification tournament matches, Brazilian dark horses Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas Figueiredo and seven other teams advanced to Thursday’s Main Draw tournament at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Sanya Open presented by Olympic Bay.
Seeded 29th in the 34-team qualification tournament, Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas Figueiredo of Brazil produced a pair of upset wins to make the Main Draw. Playing shoulder to shoulder for the first season, the Brazilian duo swept Wang Fan/Yue Yuan (4th) of China 21-13 and 21-9 before downing Inguna Minusa/Inese Jursone (13th) from Latvia 21-12 and 21-9.
“We are very happy because in Brazil we lost, but we are very excited to come here and we know that it’s gonna worth it,” said Seisas. “We hope to play our best (in the Main Draw).”
“I think it’s very important that we arrived here first,” Agatha added. “It’s our first time together and we’ll just stay focused and keep going.”
Two tandems from the Netherlands collected their Main Draw berths and Britain, Mexico, Switzerland, Greece and Finland each had one more team qualifying to complete the field of 32 women’s teams in the main draw tournament.
Merel Mooren/Jantine van der Vlist, the seventh seeds of the qualification tournament, came from behind to defeat Emily Day/Heather Hughes from the United States 13-21, 21-16 and 15-12 before claiming a straight-set win over Pi Hsin Liu/Hui Min Chang of Chinese Taipei, while fellow Dutch women Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel needed to work hard in three sets during their qualification victories against Switzerland’s Romana Kayser/Joana Heidrich and Jamie Lynn Broder/Kristina Valjas of Canada.
Tanja Goricanec and Muriel Graessli from Switzerland fought back from one set down to rally past home duo Huang Ying/Ding Jingjing 16-21, 21-15 and 15-7 in a final round qualification match to continue their journey in Sanya.
“I made a lot of serving mistakes in the first set because I was a little bit nervous. But the second set is better,” said Goricanec. “It’s difficult to play (in the hot weather). I have to do all my best because it’s the last game of my day and I made it.”
“Our first goal was go get qualified and we made it, so now game after game, we just have to play well,” she added. “Last time when I got qualified was two years ago, so I’m very happy about it.”
Other teams advancing are Zara Dampney/Shauna Mullin (Britain), Mayra Garcia/Candelas Bibiana (Mexico), Joanna Papageorgiou/Christina Roubanis (Greece) and Erika Nystrom/Emilia Nystrom (Finland).
Featuring reigning world champions and defending event champions Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca from Brazil and Beijing Olympic bronze medallists Xue Chen/Zhang Xi of China, the Main Draw will kick off on Thursday with the finale scheduled for Sunday.
The gold medal teams for the six-day Sanya Open will split US$30,000, the silver US$21,000 and the bronze US$15,000. The tournament is the first of three single gender events for women in the 2012 season, which also includes three single gender events for men along with nine double-gender events.
Sanya is hosting the FIVB SWATCH World Tour event for the fifth year in a row and this year’s Sanya Open is also included as a part of the Beach Volleyball Qualification Tournament for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
China will again stage three FIVB SWATCH World Tour events in 2012 and the Sanya Open will be followed by consecutive double gender Grand Slams in Shanghai and Beijing.
The inaugural events of the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour were played this past week at the double gender US $380,000 Brasília Open with Xue Chen/Zhang Xi winning their tenth FIVB SWATCH World Tour title together while Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers landing their 22nd FIVB SWATCH gold medal in an all United States men’s gold medal match.
2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the first FIVB Beach Volleyball event held February 17-22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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