Bangsaen set to host women’s 2012 World Tour finale
Bangsaen will host the FIVB SWATCH World Tour for the first time. Since 2006 the women’s only event was held at Phuket. Teams from China have won the Phuket title twice while the USA claimed four.
Leading the field in Thailand this year are Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta da Silva, recently crowned as 2012 World Tour champions. Their debut on the Thai sand, missing out on the previous six editions, will also be their last event together, as the Brazilian duo decided to split after nine successful years.
The 2012 olympic bronze medallists will compete for the Bangsaen title with top teams like Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. The American pair claimed silver at the 2012 London Olympic Games and were successful before in Thailand. Kessy and Ross won the Phuket event in 2008 and 2009 and finished second last year.
Other contenders are third seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler. The German girls have shown good form lately, finishing third in Stare Jablonki in August and claiming their first World Tour gold in Aland in September. Holtwick was voted most outstanding player in Stare Jablonki while Semmler was honoured with this title in Finland.
Second seeded Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr are also set for a medal in Bangsaen. Since 32-year-old Kuhn is retiring after this season she would want to give her long time partner Nadine Zumkehr a nice farewell present.
Thailand’s hopes for a medal are Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee. Varapatsorn finished 13th last year with Kamoltip Kulna, the best result ever for a Thai team on the World Tour. This year Radarong and Udomchavee booked some promising results in Asia, winning three legs of the Asian Tour and gold at the Asian Beach Games.
The main draw of the $190.000 Bangsaen Thailand Open powered by PTT starts on Thursday October 25. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, followed by the televised bronze medal match and final on Sunday. Last year China’s Chen Xue/Zhang Xi beat USA’s Kessy/Ross in the final. Italy’s Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti took the bronze over Australia’s Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer.
The Bangsaen Thailand Open is the 12th and final women’s event on the 2012 World Tour calendar. The men already finished the season in August in Stare Jablonki, Poland, where USA’s Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal claimed the men’s 2012 World Tour Championship.