Gstaad, Switzerland, July 4, 2012—After a strong summer rainstorm caused tournament officials to stop pool play for nearly two hours Wednesday, just five of the eight pools completed the first two of three rounds of women’s 32-team main draw pool play matches Wednesday heading into Thursday’s final day of round-robin pool play at the double-gender $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland.
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 annually.
After allowing all teams finish three matches in round-robin pool play on Thursday, the single-elimination bracket play for the top three teams in each pool (24 total teams) will begin on Friday instead of playing the first round on Thursday afternoon.
SEVEN IN 2-0 HEAVEN
Of the five pools who completing their two scheduled rounds, a total of seven teams from seven countries have 2-0 records. The countries with one 2-0 team each are Austria, Brazil, China, Germany, Netherlands, host-country 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 continued with the single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw held 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, and started one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday.
BREAKING IT DOWN
Teams with 2-0 records after Wednesday’s play are Austria’s 11th-seeded sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger, Brazil’s 15th-seeded Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima, China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, Netherlands’ 12th-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel, Switzerland’s eighth-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr, and USA’s sixth-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh.
Based on tie-breaker formulas, the leaders of the pools with two matches completed are China’s Xue/Zhang (pool B), Netherland’s Meppelink/van Gestel (pool E), USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh (pool F), Germany’s Goller/Ludwig (pool G) and Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr (pool H).
Among the top-seeded teams in pools that didn’t complete two rounds on Wednesday but won their first match are Brazil’s defending 1to1 energy Grand Slam champions and top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca and Italy’s third-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti.
AND THAT’S THE QUOTES, FOLKS
Certainly enjoying the comforts of their home country on the Gstaad stadium center court sand, Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumker both had different comments regarding their two pool play wins on Wednesday. First they came from behind to win the all-Swiss battle in three sets in a 55-minute match over compatriots and 25th-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, 18-21, 21-19 and 15-8. They capped their day with a less stressful two-set win over Germany’s 24th-seeded country quota/qualifier team of Gesske Banck/Kira Walkenhorst, 21-18, 22-20 in 39 minutes.
After the first win, Kuhn commented, “We had a very nervous start in the first set while on the other side of the Swatch net, Isabelle and Anouk played really well. In the second set we found our game again and in the third, Nadine and I won it easily because we served better than we did in the first two sets.”
After their win over Germany, Zumker said, “We knew that we could beat this German team and we played with good confidence and even though they tried hard, they couldn’t stop us when it counted most. These two wins give us more confidence in our game plan here in Gstaad and we look forward to tomorrow’s game and playing in front of our Swiss fans because that always helps get us and keep us going strong.”
China’s Xue/Zhang started slow in a pool that has them playing against three Brazilian teams. It took three sets for them to subdue Brazil’s country quota/qualifier team of 31st-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, 18-21, 21-19 and 15-12 in 56 minutes. The closed their day by beating Brazil’s 18th-seeded Liliane Maestrini/Angela Vieira, 21-16, 21-13 in 36 minutes.
Xue said afterwards, “It was hard for us in the beginning today, because we haven’t played in a tournament for several weeks. We have been training very hard, but playing and training are totally different-you beat everyone when you’rer practicing. This is the first time we are playing against only Brazilian teams in pool play. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s never easy. The more we play the great Brazilian teams, though, the more it helps our confidence to play against them.”
GRAND GSTAAD GUARANTEES
The gold medal teams in each gender in the 1to1 energy Grand Slam will each split $43,500, the silver $29,500, the bronze $23,000 and fourth place $18,400. The women’s medal matches will be held Saturday and the men’s medal matches will be played on Sunday in the raucous Gstaad stadium center court. 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.
TOP PLAYERS RETURN
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.
Representing eight years, the two returning women’s gold medal winners in Gstaad are Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa (2005, 2010 and 2011) and USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007). May-Treanor/Walsh’s victory in 2007 was for their third FIVB SWATCH World Championship.
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). Only the Brink/Reckermann duo isn’t playing in Gstaad this year.
GREAT GSTAAD FIELD
A total of 139 teams from 35 countries (76 men’s teams from 28 countries and 63 women’s teams from 23 countries) are competing in 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.
FIVB SWATCH WORLD TOUR CALENDAR
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.
ALL ABOARD FOR BERLIN
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.
LONG FIVB HISTORY
The 1to1 energy Grand Slam, is 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.