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2011 AVC Beach Volleyball Championship kicks off in Haikou

Louise Bawden of Australia tries to block attack from Usa Tenpaksee of Thailand at the 2011 Asian Beach Volleyball Championship
 Haikou, China, December 8, 2011 – The top seeds enjoyed easy wins on the first day of pool play at the 2011 AVC Beach Volleyball Championship on Thursday, helping them one step closer to the Round of 16. 

A grand opening ceremony was held in the morning at the beautiful Holiday Beach in Haikou City. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Meng Guohai, Vice Mayor of Haikou Municipality, and many other local dignitaries on Hainan Island. 

The 2011 AVC Beach Volleyball Championship is sanctioned by the FIVB as a 2012 London Olympic Qualification Tournament. A total of 27 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams from 14 national federations – an unprecedented number in terms of participation – came to Haikou to compete in the four-day tournament.

Eight pools were formed for both genders and the teams will play in a round-robin format over the first two days (Thursday and Friday) to determine the top 16 teams that will advance to the single-elimination phase at the weekend.

In the women’s section, Beijing Olympic bronze medallists and top seeds Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China enjoyed easy 2-0 victories on Thursday over Miller Elwin and Joyce Joshua of Vanuatu (21-9, 21-11) and Vietnam’s Hong Phan Thi Cam and Thi Tiep Nguyen (21-15, 21-10).

“Although the teams on the first day are not of the top level, we still treated them seriously,” said Xue Chen after the victory against the Vanuatu girls. “I still remember in the test event for the London Olympic Games this August, we lost to Vanuatu in the first set before coming back to win the quarterfinal there. The disbanding of that team has had a major impact on their performance. We played good today and we are watching teams like Australia and Japan who might be potential rivals in the semifinals.”

The Chinese duo are ranked first in Pool A and are already guaranteed the No. 1 seed position in the Round of 16.

Sydney Olympic gold medallist Natalie Cook, seeded sixth with Hinchley Tamsin, also started well, the duo overwhelming Liu Pi Hsin and Wu Chia-wei of Chinese Taipei 21-13, 21-16 in 32 minutes. They are currently first in Pool G and will play Zhang Changning and Ma Yuanyuan of China – the champions at last week’s Nanning Open – to determine their final position in the Round of 16.

Other leaders in the women’s pool include second seeds Huang Ying and Yue Yuan of China in Pool B, third seeds Becchara Palmer and Louise Bawden of Australia in Pool C, fourth seeds Jarunee Sannok and Usa Tenpaksee of Thailand – the bronze medallists at the SEA games – in Pool D, fifth seeds Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan in Pool E, seventh seeds Thing Beh Shun and Hua Luk Teck, and eighth seeds Shinako Tanaka and Sayaka Mizoe of Japan in Pool H.

In the men’s tournament, China’s Xu Lingyin and Wu Penggen grabbed two wins in Pool A by outclassing Saber Hoshmand and Shahram Ghasemkhah of Iran 21-6, 21-9, before beating Sri Lanka’s Pubudu Kimara Ekanayake and Peiris 21-17, 21-9.

Second seeds Alexandr Dyachenko/ Alexey Sidorenko, third seeds Kirk Pitman/ Jason Lochhead and fourth seeds Dmitriy Yakovlov/ Alexey Kuleshov also clinched two victories in Pools B, C and D, respectively.

Zhou Shun and Li Jian of China defeated Wong Pui Lam and Wing Ho Kwok from Hong Kong early in the morning in 27 minutes (21-11, 21-4). The Chinese pair will face Sam and Ben O’Dea of New Zealand on Friday to determine the top position in Pool H. The Kiwi brothers beat Doban Deh Rezaei/ Salehi Nezhad Chauani from Iran in straight sets, 21-17, 21-6.

The 2011 AVC Beach Volleyball Championship is the last and most important tournament on the 2011 AVC Beach Calendar. The 2011 AVC Beach Tour visits 11 sites in five countries over a 10-month period, featuring 11 women’s and 10 men’s events across the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


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