Gstaad, Switzerland, July 3, 2012—Consumed by the beauty and majesty of this picturesquely quaint Swiss village, eight teams from eight countries marched victoriously from the qualification tournament Tuesday to the women’s 32-team main draw which begins Wednesday in Gstaad at the double-gender $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam.
The 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour continues in Gstaad as the world’s top tandems have returned 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. Village Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440-feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB SWATCH World Tour stop is held every year.
The eight countries that advanced from the two rounds of qualifying matches Tuesday to start play pool play in the women’s main draw on Wednesday were Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United States.
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.
The eight teams from eight countries who have earned the right for two more days of pool play were Austria’s 10th-seeded qualification team of Elisabeth Klopf/Valerie Teufl, Brazil’s 13th-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Czech Republic’s second-seeded Martina Bonnerova/Barbora Hermannova, Germany’s sixth-seeded Geeske Banck/Kira Walkenhorst, Netherlands’ top-seeded Laura Bloem/Merel Mooren, Slovenia’s fifth-seeded Simona Fabjan/Andreja Vodeb, Switzerland’s ninth-seeded Joana Heidrich/Romana Kayser and USA’s 14th-seeded Jennifer Fopma/Brooke Sweat.
To the only team of the eight advancement duos that survived two qualification matches was USA’s Fopma/Sweat, who had two win to country quota playoff matches on Monday just to advance to the qualification rounds. Playing in their first FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together, the Americans enjoyed the honor of playing on the Gstaad center court in both matches, defeating qualification teams from France and Netherlands.
USA’s Fopma/Sweat first defeated France’s Adele Bardouillet/Fanny Menissier, 21-17 and 2-9 and then came from behind to upset Netherlands’ third-seeded Jolien Sinnema/Marloes Wesselink, 18-21, 21-15 and 15-13 in 47 minutes. The Americans victory over the Dutch was the only three-set match in the entire qualification tournament.
Obviously elated after four match wins already in Gstaad, Fopma said afterwards, “Oh my gosh, we are so excited to enter the main draw in our first tournament together on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The last match against the Dutch girls was almost lost but we had a great comeback and Brooke (Hanson) played amazing on defense especially. Our goal was to reach the main draw. Now we will set our goals even higher.”
Netherlands’ No. 1-seeded qualification team Bloem/Mooren overcame the support of home country fans on the Gstaad center court to advance by beating Switzerland’s 17th-seeded Marlen Brunner/Tanja Huberli, 21-12, 21-13 in 27 minutes.
“I like to play against the host country teams because the atmosphere is always so great,” said Netherlands’ Mooren following their win over the Swiss. “Of course I am happy to enter the main draw with Laura especially because it is our first tournament together after my former teammate broke her finger and was unable to play. We have been training together only a short time.”
Switzerland added a fourth team to the main draw when ninth-seeded Joana Heidrich/Romana Kayser defeated Mauritius’ Elodie Li Yuk Lo/Natacha Rigobert, 21-10, 21-15 in 28 minutes.
After their victory, Switzerland’s Kayser commented, “We couldn’t be happier now it was such a great victory for us.” Her teammate Heidrich added, “This was a great game for us. We have been working and playing hard and now we are looking forward to playing more games right here in Gstaad.”
Slovenia’s Fabjan/Vodeb advanced to the main draw by defeating Spain’s 12th-seeded Berta Antequera/Ester Ribera, 21-11, 21-15 in 33 minutes while Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas, another team to advance to the main draw after starting the week with a country quota playoff match, advanced from the qualification tournament by winning in straight sets over France’s fourth-seeded Melody Benhamou/Deborah Giaoui, 21-11, 21-13 in 32 minutes.
Winning two country quota playoff matches on Monday to advance to the qualification tournament and then become the third CQ team to move into the main draw was Germany’s Banck/Walkenhorst who eliminated Czech Republic’s 11th-seeded Karolina Rehackova/Michaela Vorlova, 21-17, 21-16 in 36 minutes on Tuesday.
The Czech Republic did advance a team to the main draw when Bonnerova/Hermannova beat Italy’s 18th-seeded Lo Re Grazziella/Nellina Mazzulla, 21-14, 21-16 in 33 minutes. Earning the eight advancement spot was Austria’s Klopf/Teufl who stopped Norway’s Janne Kongshavn/Ane Treit Hjortland, 21-17, 23-21 in 36 minutes.
The talented field includes the three of the final four finishers from both genders from last year’s tournament. 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. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes aren’t in Gstaad this year.
Three 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). Only Brink/Reckermann aren’t playing in Gstaad this year.
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.
The gold medal teams in each gender in the Brasília Open will each split $3,500, the silver $29,500, the bronze $23,000 and fourth place $18,400. The women’s medal matches will be held Friday and the men’s medal matches will be played next Sunday. 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.