Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 14, 2012 – Rimke Braakman and Michelle Stiekema won twice on the opening day of the women’s competition at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki on Tuesday to book their place in the main draw that starts on Wednesday.
Over the last two years Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer, and Sophie van Gestel and Madelein Mappelink have shown the growing depth of Dutch beach volleyball on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour and now Braakman and Stiekema have continued that growth by reaching the main draw for the first time since they paired up in 2010.
“This is the first time we reached the main draw,” Braakman said. “It was a good victory and good for me personally and as a team. We felt we could compete at this level, but a couple of times we had a tough draw, but now we are playing very well.”
First off they fought back from an opening set loss to beat Ukraine’s Svitlana Baburina and Inna Makhno 15-21, 21-14, 15-12. Then they defeated the Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova and Barbora Hermannova 21-18, 21-15.
“It has been a while, we have practiced so hard and now we have made it,” Stiekema said. “I just want to play the pool phase and enjoy myself. One win would be great.”
Julia Grossner and Victoria Bieneck also fought their way through qualification to reach the main draw, only the second time in 2012 that they have done so.
After they won the German country quota round with a 21-18, 21-17 victory over Teresa Mersmann and Cinja Tillmann, they beat Janne Pedersen and Cindy Treland of Norway and Italy’s Laura Giombini and Daniela Momoli.
“On the World Tour we always have to play the country quota round and that is always very hard, “Bieneck said. “I’m satisfied we qualified. It is the second time we’ve reached the main draw this year so I’m very happy to be in the main draw.”
In Grossner and Bieneck’s second match the Italian pair saved five match points before the Germans closed out the match.
“That last match was really close, especially the last set,” Grossner said. “We just tried to think about the next ball.”
Also through to the main draw are US pairs Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Hanson, and Brittany Hochevar and Angela Ackers, Swiss duo Tanja Goricanec and Muriel Graessli, Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, Austria’s Barbara Hansel and Magdalena Jirak and Germany’s Geeske Banck and Kira Walkenhorst.
The Mazury Orlen Grand Slam is the ninth of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the 10th women’s tournament of the year. The winning side will leave with the largest share from a pot of $300,000 per gender.
The women’s calendar is set to culminate with the Bang Saen Thailand Open powered by PTT in Thailand which runs from October 23-28.