Men’s Pool Play upsets numerous at FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam Thursday
Corrientes, Argentina, May 23, 2013—Striving through the damp, bone-chilling air that never dampened the spirits of several thousand spectators, 32 men’s teams struggled through two of three rounds of pool play Thursday setting up their final round robin match and the first of single-elimination play Friday as the $440,000 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam double-gender tournament continues. Leading seven of the eight pools with 2-0 records are two teams from Brazil and one each from Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands and Poland. The other pool is led on point ratio by a team from the United States although all four teams in the group have 1-1 records.
Pool Play will conclude with a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams starting Friday with the men also playing the first round of elimination play. With the event being held for the first time in Corrientes, it continues through Sunday at the purpose-built site is located on the sands of Arazati Beach – Costanera Sur. The final day of pool play matches are scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. local time Friday, continuing under the lights with the women’s quarterfinals.
Men’s teams advancing undefeated in pool play to lead their respective groups are Brazilian duos Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego and Vitor Felipe/Evandro Goncalves along with Czech Republic’s Robert Kufa/Jan Hadrava, Germany’s Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen and Poland’s Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek.
Technically ahead on point ratio in the other pool is USA’s Todd Rogers/Ryan Doherty while also with 1-1 records in their four-team pool after beating each up pretty good on Thursday are Italian brothers Paolo Ingrosso/Matteo Ingrosso, Switzerland’s Mats Kovatsch/Sebastian Chevallier, and USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson.
The lighted stadium court has been built to seat 7,500 spectators. With competition on the final four days schedule into the evening, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on Saturday with the men’s semifinals and medal matches closing the tournament on Sunday. Play the first four days is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and at 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday for the men’s final four matches.
Brazil’s Felipe/Goncalves, who came through Wednesday’s qualification tournament with two wins and are in their rookie season on the FIVB World Tour, had two of the biggest seed breakthroughs on Thursday against higher seeded teams from their own country and Germany. The 28th-seeded Brazilians started the day by knocking off 12th-seeded compatriots Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho, 15-21, 21-19 and 15-12 in 54 minutes. They capped their day by defeating Germany’s fifth-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik, 21-18, 21-17 in 40 minutes to stay unbeaten in Argentina.
One of the most surprising upsets and definitely the favorite of the partial home-country fans was an upset victory by Argentina’s Ian Mehamed/Julian Azaad over Germany’s Julius Brink/Sebastian Fuchs. The Argentina duo stunned Germany’s 2012 Olympic champion Brink and his new teammate Fuchs, 21-9, 11-21, 15-8 in 49 minutes. That win came after bouncing back from a three-set loss to Czech Republic’s surprising Kufa/ Hadrava, who are leading their pool with a 2-0 mark.
Argentina’s Azaad commented after the win over Germany, "I just can't believe it,” he said. “Julius Brink it's my favorite player, he’s the one I watch all the time to learn. And having beaten him... it's incredible. We were a little depressed after this morning's defeat, because we had the game in our hands before losing in the third set, but now everything has changed. We have fulfilled our goal and we should be going into the next round."
Brazil’s legendary Emanuel, 40, and his youthful teammate Alison, 27, won two fairly quick matches, in their return for this first time this year as they are back following a finger injury suffered by Alison a few months ago.
A two-time medal winner here in Argentina when the FIVB World Tour staged men’s Open events in 1998, 1999 and 2000, Emanuel commented, “We felt really good today and weren’t near as rusty as we could have been. We are just getting our competition sand legs back and it will take some time but this was a very good start. I really liked the sand here, deep and soft like back home in Brazil and what the city of Corrientes has done to support this first-time event is remarkable. Having thousands of school kids here today cheering like they did was a lot like playing at home.”
Visiting Corrientes for the first time, the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam is the fourth all-time FIVB World Tour men’s event, first FIVB World Tour women’s tournament and first FIVB World Tour Grand Slam in Argentina. Argentina’s men’s world tour events were all held in Mar del Plata (1998, 1999, 2000) and a men’s FIVB Satellite event was also held there in 2004. In 2005, Buenos Aires was the site of a double-gender FIVB Satellite event.
As the host nation, Argentina received three teams in each gender pre-positioned into the main draw. For the men, besides Mehamed/Azaad, the Argentinean teams are Pablo Bianchi/Pablo Suarez (1-1 Thursday) and Juan Zorrilla/Facundo Del Coto (0-2).
The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam will each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place $12,900. The women’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the men’s medal matches on Sunday. The FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam will be the 286th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1989 and the 248th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.