Gstaad, Switzerland, July 3, 2012—Breaking through the solitude and serenity of another peacefully summer day in the inspiring Swiss mountain village of Gstaad, the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour began its men’s competition on Tuesday in Switzerland with one team each from Brazil and the United States advancing from country quota playoff matches to Wednesday’s men’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 extremely popular 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 Rhooney Ferramenta/Thiago Santos Barbosa while playing in Wednesday’s qualification tournament that will provide the final eight teams for the 32-team main draw from the USA will be Casey Jennings/Bill Strickland.
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 with the women’s 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.
As is the case in most FIVB SWATCH World Tour events with the depth and quality of the teams from their country, Brazil’s Ferramenta/Santos Barbosa had to win two country quota playoff matches while both USA’s Jennings/Strickland had to win one all-USA match-up Tuesday.
Brazil’s Ferramenta/Santos Barbosa started the playoffs off defeating compatriots Evandro Goncalves/Harley Marques, 21-14, 21-15 in 35 minutes. After that conquest, Ferramenta/Santos Barbosa had to defeat another top Brazilian team when their hung on to beat Marcio Araujo/Pedro Salgado, 21-16, 26-24 in 44 minutes. Marcio/Salgado had defeated Brazil’s Vitor Felipe/Moises Santos, 21-18, 21-16 in 42 minutes earlier Tuesday to set up the showdown with Ferramenta/Barbosa.
“It was most important for us that we win the country quota matches,” said Brazil’s Ferramenta. “If we lose we are out of the tournament before it even starts. It was tough that four Brazilian teams had to fight for only one place, but that’s how great beach volleyball is in our country that we could have this many teams able to compete on a regular basis on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. Now we’re looking forward to playing someone else besides a Brazilian team.”
In the all-USA country quota playoff match between teams that have met many times before and know each other well, Jennings/Strickland came back in the longest men’s match of the year to eliminate fellow Americans Brad Keenan/John Mayer, 21-12, 25-27 and 15-12 in 48 minutes.
Following their victory, USA’s Jennings commented, “These country quota matches we have to play most tournaments is one thing to us---much stress. We know each other so well, it’s amazing that we just to finished tied or keep playing until dark. I am a real hyper player so I pass a ball to the ball boy before I serve just to calm me down.”
The talented field includes the three of the final four finishers from both genders from last year. 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). Brink/Reckermann aren’t playing here this year.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’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 are not in the women’s Gstaad field 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) officially entered the 1to1 Energy Grand Slam, 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 Feb. 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The first women’s event was played Aug. 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.