Rome, Italy, June 16, 2012 – Sean Rosenthal and Jacob Gibb recovered from a set down to beat Sasha Heyer and Sebastian Chevalier and reach the final of the smart Grand Slam, Rome on Saturday.
Jacob Gibb (left) and Sean Rosenthal had to fight back from a set down to reach their second FIVB SWATCH World Tour final of 2012
“It has been a great week and a pretty good year,” Rosenthal said. “It has been a huge year and an emotional year. Every tournament that we enter we want to win and we have the opportunity here. We still have work to do and we are excited to play tomorrow.”
They battled back to finish with a 14-21, 21-16, 15-10 win that sets up a final against 2011 FIVB world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti.
“I was feeling it in my legs,” Rosenthal continued. “I had a couple of cramps in my hamstrings at dinner. They are a good team. We were playing for a lot and it was a big match for us.”
It is the second time in 2012 that Rosenthal and Gibb have reached a Grand Slam final after they took silver in Shanghai. Previously they have won gold at the Acapulco Open in 2006 and the Prague Open in 2008, but so far a first Grand Slam gold has eluded them.
Now under the guidance of 1996 Olympic Games silver medallist Mike Dodd the hope is that they can end that run.
“I think he completely turned our year around,” Gibb said “We were floundering around at the end of last year without direction and he took us in and absolutely changed our game. He really deserves a lot of the credit for our success this year.”
Emanuel and Alison’s win means they will return to the centre court where they won the FIVB SWATCH World Championships a year ago.
They were pushed all the way in a three-set match by USA’s Matthew Fuerbringer and Nicholas Lucena, but reached the final with a 21-18, 14-21, 15-10 victory.
“This week we have had to be fighters because the first three matches were very difficult for us,” Emanuel said. “The reason we are in the final is because we are very hard-hearted and we never give up.
“We have tried to have different strategies in these matches and this is something that I think we’ve done well.”
Emanuel and Alison stand to win a second consecutive World Tour gold medal after they took the top honours at the Moscow Grand Slam. This year they have also won silver at the Prague Open and bronze at the Beijing Grand Slam.
Key to their resurgence has been Alison’s form. Once again he was a force of nature and meant that Fuerbringer and Lucena had problems all night getting past him at the net.
“He worked magic tonight,” Emanuel continued. “He scored all the last five points and brought our team to life tonight.”
The smart Grand Slam, Rome is the seventh tournament on the men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour, which features 12 events and culminates with the Agadir Open in Morocco in October.
Rome is the last tournament in which world ranking points count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the winning team will leave with a prize of $43,000. Both the women’s and men’s finals take place on Sunday, June 17.