Porto Santo, Madeira Archipeligo, July 22 - Madeira's Volleyball Association has again in 2003 brought top-flight Beach Volleyball to it's golden shores by staging an International Exhibition, this year featuring some of the world's leading women players.
Competing in the event, titled the Porto Santo Line/TMN International Exhibition are Australia's Olympic gold medalist Natalie Cook with her new partner Nicole Sanderson, Shaylin Bede and Renata Ribeiro of Brazil, Sarah Maxwell and Annie Marie Lessard of Canada and sister duo from Bulgaria, Lina and Petia Yanchulova.
In opening matches Cook-Sanderson beat the Bulgarian sisters 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) and Maxwell-Lessard won against Brazilians Shaylin-Renata in a hard fought contest that ended 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 15-11).
On Wednesday Australia meets Canada and Brazil meets Bulgaria; on Thursday Australia meets Brazil and Bulgaria plays Canada. The finals for for places 1-4 are set for Friday.
Located 46km from the Northeast of Madeira, Porto Santo is an idyllic Atlantic hideaway. The island is famous for its 9km of white sandy beaches, limpid clear water and natural marine landscape and wildlife.
The women's tournament follows visits in previous years by some of the world's best men's teams including Argentineans Barracetti/Conde (World Champions), Americans Fonoimoana/Blanton (Olympic Champions) Brazilians Ricardo/Loiola, American veteran Sinjin Smith, Karl Henkel and others.
The event this year is designed to introduce the sport at elite level to loacl audiences and to inspire women on the island to take up the sport.