Larnaka, Cyprus, July 13, 2012—What began with 24 remaining men’s teams starting Friday’s single-elimination rounds and ending with the quarterfinals on the sparkling sand of Larnaka’s center court brings the final four teams of two from Poland along with one each from Austria and Russia into Saturday’s semifinals and medal matches at the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Youth World Championships, the 11th annual event for players under 19 being held in a special purpose-built complex featuring the stadium center court at Finikoudes Beach on the shores of the glistening waters of the peaceful Mediterranean Sea.
The semifinals will be held Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and the medal matches will be held Saturday evening under the Cyprus stars in each gender with the women’s gold medal match at 7 p.m. followed at 8 p.m. for the men’s gold medal match. Admission is free
The world’s best young men’s tandems qualified for Larnaka and have been competing since Wednesday on the sun-baked Larnaka sand. The championship started with each team playing three round-robin pool play matches Wednesday and Thursday, when the field was reduced to 24 duos (the top three in each pool) from the original the field of 32 men’s teams in the double-gender event resulting in the final four for Saturday’s closing day.
Meeting in the men’s semifinals Saturday will be Poland’s third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek battling Austria’s eighth-seeded Martin Ermacora/Lukas Stranger in one while in the other see Poland’s 24th-seeded Michael Bryl/Kacper Kujawiak face off against Russia’s fifth-seeded Viacheslav Kirienko/Dimitry Uraikin.
While the tournament started with teams from 34 nations, the final four are all from European countries and Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek and Poland’s Bryl/Kujawaik are both 5-0 in Larnaka as is Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin. While the other three teams all won their respective pools with 3-0 record and had a bye in Friday’s first elimination round, Austria’s Ermacora/Stranger have a 5-1 record after finishing 2-1 in pool play and having to win three matches on Friday to advance to Saturday’s final four.
In Saturday’s men’s quarterfinal matches, played under the lights on yet another blissfully warm Cyprus summer night before an enthusiastic packed Larnaka stadium center court, the first two saw Austria’s Martin Ermacora/Lukas Stranger defeat Australia’s 16th-seeded Max Staples/Samuel Walker, 21-19 and 21-14 in 35 minutes and Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek eliminate Lithuania’s 22nd-seeded Gilbertas Kerpe/Arnas Rumsevicius, 21-12, 21-13 in 29 minutes.
In the other two quarterfinal matches, Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin held off Germany’s fourth-seeded Max Betzien/Max-Jonas Karpa, 21-17, 21-15 in 37 minutes and Poland’s Bryl/Kujawiak toppled Norway’s second-seeded Bjarne Huus/Christian Sorum, 21-12, 21-13 in 31 minutes to clinch all final four spots for teams from Europe.
All four of the men’s quarterfinals were played at twilight with Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin’s victory over Germany’s Betzien/Kerpa being played on the Larnaka center court.
The Australia’s Staples/Walker, Lithuania’s Kerpe/Rumsevicius, Germany’s Betzien/Karpa and Norway’s Huus/Sorum all leave Larnaka with official fifth place finishes in the 2012 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships.
The two host country Cyprus men’s teams in the championships both advanced to the elimination phase where top-seeded Krill Rudenko/Konstantinos Yiannakkos and sixth-seeded Minos Agathakleoous/Michail Panagiotis both lost in the first round of single-elimination to finish the tournament with 17th-place finishes.
In the combined history of this event, Germany and Poland are tied for the lead among all countries with 15 total final four finishes each (Germany has six for men and nine for women while Poland has nine for men and six for women). In the race for medals in the event, Germany leads with 13 total (four four men and nine for women) while second is Poland with 10 total (seven for men and three for women).
At last year’s FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships in Umag, Croatia, a pair of Polish teams, Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak and Karolina Baran/Katarzyna Kociolek won their respective gold medals to help Poland increase their overall event-leading country medal count. Poland joined Germany (2003 in Pattaya, Thailand) as the only countries to capture the gold medal in both genders in the same year in the event’s first decade.
Poland’s 2011 women’s champions, Baran/Kociolek, are back to defend their title and Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek returns but his teammate this year is Sebastian Kaczmarek (no relation). They have advanced to the single-elimination phase of the tournament by winning their respective pools with 3-0 records.
Cyta TV of Larnaka will broadcast the medal matches for both genders live on Saturday evening. An international IMG television crew is also on-site to produce special segments from both genders to air on the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour highlight shows to air worldwide later this summer.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Champions in each gender will be rewarded a “wild card” by the FIVB for a future FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour event during the final months of 2012 or during the 2013 season.
After staging three FIVB Challenger events (2006, 2007, 2008) Cyprus has again returned to the world stage as Larnaka, a popular tourist destination, is hosting the 2012 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships for players under the age of 19. This year’s 11th annual double-gender event started Wednesday and will conclude Saturday.
Larnaka is a city of 72,000 located on the Southern Coast of Cyprus and third largest city in the island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
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