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Upsets Highlight Transavia Grand Slam Men’s Qualification Tournament

Michiel van Dorsten helps Dutch pair to gain unexpected qualifying wins Tuesday in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 15, 2014 - It was a “day of upsets” on The Hague Beach Stadium court here Tuesday as former Olympic gold medalists and FIVB Beach Volleyball world champions were upset during the men’s qualifying rounds of the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.

A total of six of the eight qualifying teams for Wednesday’s opening “money” rounds scored two wins each led by 17th-seeded Daan Spijkers/Michiel van Dorsten of The Netherlands and 20th-seeded Enrico Rossi/Matteo Ingrosso of Italy.  For Rossi, the two wins with Ingrosso came in his first-ever FIVB World Tour event as he was replacing Ingrosso’s brother (Paolo), who is sidelined with a right shoulder injury.

After the Italians advanced to the Main Draw with their second win Tuesday on the center court, Spijkers and van Dorsten posted the day’s biggest upset by eliminating top-seeded Alvaro Filho and Ricardo Santos of Brazil 2-1 (13-21, 21-19 and 15-13) in 51 minutes. 

As the last team to gain a berth in the Transavia Grand Slam field after a team from Russia withdrew Monday from the competition, Spijkers and van Dorsten took advantage of their good fortune by out-lasting 17th-seeded Jonas Kissling and Mats Kovatsch of Switzerland 2-1 (23-25, 24-22 and 15-11) in 58 minutes.

“I am exhausted right now,” said the 27-year old van Dorsten, who sat shaking under the center court grandstand after the win over the highly-regarded Brazilians led by Athens 2008 Olympic champion Ricardo.  “We played two extremely tough matches against two tough teams.  What was more amazing is that we were not in this tournament Monday morning.  Thank goodness that we got a chance to play this week and we played well enough to win against two experienced teams.”

Van Dorsten credited his partner for getting him “focused against the Brazilians.  Daan really got mad at me after the first set in the last match.  It really helped me to regain my focus.  I played terrible in the first set.  Once I started playing better, I started blocking well and siding out.  Daan played unbelievable defense behind me.  Now, we have a chance to play more matches this week with our family and friends watching.”

The Transavia Grand Slam is the ninth FIVB World Tour event for the Spijkers/van Dorsten partnership as the pair finished ninth together earlier this season in Anapa, Russia.  The Dutch pair had failed to qualify for the main draw in their last three FIVB Grand Slam starts in Germany, Norway and Switzerland as Spijkers and van Dorsten were eliminated twice by a Brazilian pair in Berlin and Gstaad, and by Kissling and Kovatsch in Stavanger.

For Rossi, it was a “dream come true” qualifying for the Main Draw as he is appearing in his first-ever FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event.  Seeded 20th in the 24-team men’s qualifier, Rossi and Ingrosso scored a pair of three-set wins Tuesday over pairs from Russia and the United States in the ninth men’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour.

“This is exciting,” said the 21-year old Rossi, “and was unexpected.  It is like a dream come true.  Since we are playing together for the first-time, I think we have definitely surprised everyone.  I always feel confident in my abilities, but this is really something special.  I have never played against these men, so I think our qualifying is very surprising.”

After eliminating 13th-seeded Grigoriy Goncharov and Serguey Prokopyev of Russia 2-1 (21-17, 15-21 and 15-12) in 46 minutes, Rossi and Ingrosso out-lasted fourth-seeded Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers of the United States 2-1 (21-15, 15-21 and 15-12) in 44 minutes.

“We made some changes in the third set with our serving pattern,” said the 26-year Ingrosso after defeating Beijing 2008 gold medalist Rogers and his new partner Brunner.  “Todd was siding out really well, so we decided to go after his partner.  It worked and we were able to prevent them from scoring down the stretch.  Enrico played really well today and he gained a lot of confidence.  It will be different tomorrow when we start pool play, but we’ll enjoy the moment now.”

Rossi’s only other experience in a FIVB event was earlier this year in the under-23 world championships in Poland where he placed ninth with Marco Caminati in Myslowice.  “Playing here this week is a totally different experience for me,” said Rossi.  “This event features the best Beach Volleyball players in the world and I am thrilled that I am able to play with Matteo.  He was very encouraging throughout the match and made me feel comfortable.”

Also posting a seed-break-through to the Main Draw were ninth-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Alexei Strasser of Switzerland, 10th-seeded Maverick Hatch/Christian Redman of Canada, 11th-seeded Esteban and Marco Grimalt of Chile and 12th-seeded Jan Dumek and Robert Kufa of Czech Republic.  Other men’s qualifiers Tuesday were second-seeded Tri Bourne/John Hyden of the United States, third-seeded Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl of Austria

The Transavia Grand Slam, a “prelude” to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, will be played at three sites on Wednesday and Thursday where pool play matches will be held at The Hague Beach Stadium and the Scheveningen side courts along with competition in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn. 

The action for the final three days of the competition will be solely at the Scheveningen courts where the medal matches will be played Sunday.  The final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.

Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event.  The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).

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