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Dutch pair van Gestel and Meppelink reach Fuzhou semifinals

Sophie van Gestel and Madelein Meppelink (left) from the Netherlands win a spot in the semi-finals at the Fuzhou Open
Fuzhou, China, April 27, 2013 – Sophie van Gestel and Madelein Meppelink from the Netherlands knocked out Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Agatha Bednarczuk to win a semifinal spot at the Fuzhou Open in China on Saturday.

Van Gestel and Meppelink first beat number two seeds and compatriots Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel in an all-Dutch match up in the second round of the single elimination phase 2-0 (22-20, 21-14).

They then faced Antonelli and Bednarczuk, beating the Brazilians 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-11). Antonelli’s former partner Talita Da Rocha Antunes was also knocked out today in her third round match with new partner Taiana Lima.

van Gestel and Meppelink will meet Spain’s Liliana Fernández Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan in the first semifinal followed by top seeded Chinese Chen Xue and Zhang Xi against Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler on Sunday.

Second World Tour/Open semi-final

Van Gestel and Meppelink make it through to only their second FIVB World Tour/Open semi-final in Fuzhou after winning silver at the Klagenfurt Grand Slam in 2012.

“I’m excited about tomorrow. It’s our second semifinal, we played in Klagenfurt last year and I just really want to play at my best level and we will see who is best at the end of the day,” said Meppelink.

“Against the Dutch, it’s always different and the first set was close, but in the second set we played really well and we got them, so it’s really big,” said van Gestel.

Facing the favourites

Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler also earned a semifinal spot by beating the experienced USA pair April Ross and Jennifer Kessy 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-11) .

“We’re feeling really, really happy. We went through the fast way because we won the pool and had one match less, but still it’s a little bit tiring to play a lot and now it’s our first three set match and it hurt the legs of us girls,” said Semmler.

Holtwick and Semmler now face local favourites Chen Xue and Zhang Xi in their semifinal match on Sunday.

“That is tough. I think there will be a lot of people for the Chinese. It will be our first match on the centre court here and we hope a lot of people will come and we hope we can play a good match,” said Holtwick.

“We’ve improved a lot over the past three weeks and we're ready to go,” said Semmler.   

Ross and Kessy play in their first tournament of the year in Fuzhou and are happy with their progress in the tournament.

“I’m pretty proud of us, this is our first tournament of the year, usually we have a couple of warm ups in the US and we didn’t this year so I’m really happy with the way we played. I think the German team played really well. We needed a little bit more wind to beat them today, our serves weren’t that great, so overall we're feeling ok,” said Kessy.

“April and I have been playing together for seven years now and this is our last glory year together, so we’re really enjoying playing with each other.”

Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province lies on the southeast coast of mainland China and hosts the Open event for the first time. The city held the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in 2012 where Taliqua Clancy was part of the winning Australian team.

The Fuzhou Open is the first of eight Open events during a bumper nine-month season, which also includes the FIVB World Tour – 10 Grand Slams and the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland.

The Shanghai Grand Slam is the next tournament on the calendar running from April 30 to May 5.

Please click here for full results and schedule of the Women’s Main Draw

Follow live comments throughout the tournament on Twitter at #FuzhouOpen


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