Gstaad, Switzerland, July 2, 2012—Enjoying the peacefulness of the Swiss mountain village of Gstaad, the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour began its next round Monday in Switzerland with one team each from Brazil, Germany and the United States advancing from country quota matches to Tuesday’s women’s qualification tournament at the double-gender $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam. The world’s top beach volleyball tandems return to Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 11 men’s and 12 previous women’s events.
Advancing for Brazil was the duo of Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, for Germany it was Geeske Banck/Kira Walkenhorst while playing on Tuesday from the USA will be Jennifer Fopma/Brooke Sweat.
The fifth of an FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the 1to1 energy Grand Slam began with women’s country quota matches on Monday continues with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday. 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.
Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas had to win one country quota playoff match while both Germany’s Banck/Walkenhorst and USA’s Fopma/Sweat had to win twice on Monday. Bednarczuk/Seixas started the playoffs off coming from behind to defeat compatriots Maria Clara Salgado/Leao Vanilda, 21-23, 21-17 and 15-8 in 52 minutes, the longest match of the opening day of the event.
“Tomorrow we want to qualify for the main draw,” said Brazil’s Bednarczuk following her team’s impressive win over the veteran Salgado and her new partner Vanilda. “But today we first had to get used to the altitude in Gstaad and beat another Brazilian team.”
With four teams from Germany meeting in country quota playoffs, Banck/Walkenhorst advanced by first defeating Victoria Bieneck/Julia Grossner, 21-17, 14-21 and 15-10 in 44 minutes and then moved to the qualification tournament by defeating Jana Kohler/Anni Schumacher, 21-19, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
“It’s a little surprising for us that we won these two matches against other German teams,” reflected Germany’s Banck. “We never won before against Kohler and Schumacher. Tomorrow, we will see, everything is possible and we proved that today.”
Playing for the first time on the world tour, USA’s Fopma/Sweat first beat fellow Americans Emily Day/Heather Hughes, 21-12, 21-18 in 34 minutes and then came from behind and won their advancement match over the more-experienced duo of Angie Akers/Brittany Hochevar, 18-21, 21-18 and 15-11 in 49 minutes.
Genuinely exciting with her team’s performance Monday, USA’s Sweat. “It’s great that we could play two matches, especially because it was our first time playing in the country quota playoffs, but we could get used to it if it is necessary to improve and eventually making into the tournament without having to play against another American team. It was a little bit difficult not only because of the opponents, but also because of the altitude. For tomorrow we just want to make it out and into the main draw.”
The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year. In last year’s women’s competition, Brazill’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold for the second straight year, with silver going to China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, the bronze to Italy’s Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti and fourth place for the second straight year to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Gstaad were Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (gold), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (silver), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (bronze) and Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (fourth place).
A total of 139 teams from 35 countries (76 men’s teams from 28 countries and 63 women’s teams from 23 countries) have entered the 1to1 Energy Grand Slam (as of July 1, 2012), including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States, and Venezuela.
The 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 13 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parde. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6.32-million in prize money.
After the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with the next grand slam double-gender event July 10-15 in Berlin (Berlin Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the 239th women’s event and 279th 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.
For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.