Austria, Germany and the Netherlands advance two teams into the Paf Open main draw
Austria’s Barbara Hansel and her new partner Magdalena Jirak said they felt the pressure of being top seeded in the qualification tournament after needing three sets (17-21 21-12 15-12) to beat 16th seeded Olena Basanova and Valentina Hrystyuk in the second and final round.
The young Ukrainian team made their debut on the World Tour, but that was no reason for the Austrians to take them lightly.
"We did not take it easy," Hansel insisted. "But we did start a little too slow. We made some mistakes serving and that made it easier for them. They realized they had chances."
Hansel (28) said goodbye to her partner for the past four years, Sara Montagnolli, just a few weeks ago, before teaming up with Jirak (25).
Said Hansel: "We knew each other from the Austrian tour. There are not a lot of Austrian beach volleyball players and I wanted to play with somebody who would not need a lot of time to get on a main draw level."
Jirak had not played on the World Tour since 2009 due to injuries to her shoulder and knee.
"I did not expect to play beach volleyball anymore," Jirak said. "But when she asked me I wanted to take the opportunity."
The Austrian pair made it to the first round of the Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki in their first official event together.
"We did not have a lot of time to practice, but it was a good start," Hansel said. "We hope to do better here. It looks easier because not all of the top teams are here. But we take it step by step, our first aim is to be a steady main draw team and after that, 2016 (Rio Olympic Games) is far, but that is our biggest goal."
Also surviving two rounds of qualification on the sunny Aland Island were Austria’s Teufl/Klopf, Dutch teams Stiekema/Braakman and Van der Vlist/Mooren, Germany’s Banck/Walkenhorst and Bieneck/Grossner, Broder/Valjas from Canada en Kazakhstan’s Tsimbalova/Mashkova.
The main draw tournament starts Thursday at 10.00 with Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta da Silva leading the field. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, followed by the bronze medal match and the final on Sunday.
The Paf Open is the second of three woman’s only events on the 2012 FIVB World Tour calendar. The first four editions of the Paf Open (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011) were double gender events
OTHER BEACH VOLLEYBALL NEWS