PRESS RELEASE 07.11.2008

USA & Australia in semi-finals, top-seed Brazilians still on course

Becchara Palmer (right) celebrates a point with Australian partner Tamsin Barnett

Phuket, Thailand, November 7, 2008 - On a day when all home players crashed out, the formidable Jennifer Boss and April Ross brushed off Nicole Branagh and Tyra Turner in the all-American battle to join Australians Tamsin Barnett and Becchara Palmer in the semi-finals of the US$175,000 Phuket Thailand Open at Karon Beach.

Boss and Ross, second-seeded and the world No. 5 pair, who last month performed impressively to finish second in the Dubai Open, their season-best performance so far, lived up to their fans' expectations when they pulled off an exceptional 21-16 and 21-12 win over the third-seeded Branagh and Turner.

"Itís the first time that we took them on (Branagh and Turner).  After a disappointing ninth last season here, we just came back much stronger this time with an ultimate aim of winning the tournament,Ē said Ross.

Said team-mate Boss: ďAlthough itís not that easy to win it, we will try our best.  After we made it to the semi-finals, I think we can play any team in the round.Ē

The 13th-seeded Australians Barnett and Palmer on Friday powered past Germans Geeske Banck and Anja Gunther 21-14 and 27-25 to cruise their ways into the semi-finals.

"We played as a team. We boosted, blocked and tried to help each other. That's what counts. I'm very happy to make it to the semi-finals as Barnett and I just partnered for the first time for this tournament," Palmer said.

"My best performance this season was the 13th place in Norway, but at that time I was not teaming up with Barnett.  Here, we trained together only two weeks in preparation for the tournament and could come up this far.  Itís a success, I think.  Barnett contested the Beijing Olympics, but that was only for experience," Palmer added.

Meanwhile, top seeds and the world No. 3 Salgado sisters, Maria Clara and Carolina, from Brazil still kept their hopes of advancing to the semi-finals alife following their comfortable 21-14 and 21-10 victory over the 11th-seeded Georgians Cristine "Saka" Santanna and Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins in the late match on Friday.

However, the fourth-seeded world No. 8 pair Maria Antonelli and Vanilda Leao had a disaster when they were eliminated by Chinese Jie Wang and Man Zuo, going down in a hard-fought three-set battle 24-26 21-14 12-15 to claim joint-13th position in the tournament.

The Thai challenge in the penultimate stop of the 2008 FIVB World Tour also completely ended Friday when the last two teams from Thailand went down to their respective rivals.

The ninth-seeded Jurunee Sannok and Usa Tenpaksee, who captured the title in the Chennai Challenger in July and the 17th position here twice, found Brazilians Maria Clara and Carolina too strong and succumbed in straight sets 17-21 and 17-21 in a 34-minute battle.  Despite the loss, the Thai duo, who recently landed the Asian Beach Games title in Indonesia, were still satisfied with their performance.

"We played more comfortably against the strongest team here. We had nothing to lose. If we won, I think it would be our top form. The Brazilians are formidable and we had no match against them," Jarunee, 27, said.

Usa said: "If we had a chance to take part in more FIVB events, I think our prospects would be much better. I think if so, we could play competitively against our rivals. However, Iím happy with our improved fortune this time. Last year, we finished an unprecedented 17th here and now we are leaving with the 13th position.Ē

The 10th-seeded pair Kamoltip Kulna and Yapa Phokongploy also could not go the distance this time, losing a thrilling three-set encounter to the Nystrom sisters, Emilia and Erika, from Finland to claim joint-13th position.

For the Thai tandem, it was an upset loss as they won the first set easily 21-13 and took a commanding 9-4 lead in the second set. But they let the win slip through their fingers when the Finnish twins upped their tempo and stormed back with a dazzling display to take the hard-fought second set 23-21 before rolling on to win the decider 15-6.

Supported by PTT Group, TOT, Phuket Gazette, Loxinfo, Woraburi Phuket, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Sport Authority of Thailand, Kata Group and Bangkok Hospital, the US$175,000 event continues through Sunday when the final two teams battle it out for the well-earned crown along with the winnerís prize money of US$28,000.