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Ross and Walsh start road to Rio in São Paulo

Kerri Walsh (left) and April Ross will be back together for the São Paulo Grand Slam
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 20, 2013 – Triple Olympic champion Kerri Walsh and new partner April Ross will begin their path towards the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games when they team up for the FIVB Beach Volleyball São Paulo Grand Slam that runs from October 8-13. 

The pair previously played together at the Gstaad Grand Slam and made it through pool play before being eliminated and since then Ross returned to play with Jennifer Kessy at the Long Beach and Berlin Grand Slams.

Walsh won her third consecutive Olympic gold alongside the now-retired Misty May-Treanor at London 2012 when the pair defeated Kessy and Ross in the final at Horse Guards’ Parade. May-Treanor retired immediately after the Olympics, while Walsh stepped away from the sport to give birth to her third child. 

With Kessy having stated that she wasn’t planning on continuing to Rio, Ross and Walsh decided that the end of 2013 would be the start of their fulltime partnership and Sao Paolo is their last chance to play in a Grand Slam before 2014.

The pair are one of three female USA teams in São Paulo. Kessy will play alongside Whitney Pavlik and Berlin bronze medallists Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat complete the US’ line-up in the female draw.

In the men’s draw there are two US teams; Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson and Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal. 

Brazilians eye domestic gold

Brazil lead the way in both the male and female draws though with four teams apiece. 

Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado will be aiming to add to their first-ever Grand Slam gold medals from the most recent Grand Slam in Moscow. However, they will face competition for home glory from FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour leaders Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships bronze medallists Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas and Maria Antonelli and Agatha Bednarczuk, who won silver at the Corrientes Grand Slam. 

In the men’s main draw Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego are reunited having played with Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves respectively in Moscow. Vitor Felipe and Evandro meanwhile are also back together and have earned a wildcard to the main draw, in part helped by their gold medal success at the Berlin Grand Slam. 

Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt will aim to retake first spot in the World Rankings from Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs, while Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Filho will be out for a second World Tour gold having played with different partners on the Brazilian Tour. 

Germany is the most represented European nation with three teams in both men’s and women’s draw. Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler are the leading German female duo, while World Championships bronze medallists Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik lead the men.

The final entry list and actually seeding for the tournament will be updated following the Technical Meeting on the eve of the tournament. The seeding will be based on the sum of the individual rankings taking into consideration the status as at -21 days.

The São Paulo Grand Slam which runs from October 8-13 is the ninth and final Grand Slam of 2013 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, which this year included the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland which ran from July 1 to 7. 

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