English duo into main draw at Rome Grand Slam
In soaring temperatures the English were pushed hard by the Thai team, but used their greater experience and power to overwhelm them late on in the second set.
“They were tough conditions out here, it’s still hot, even at five o’clock,” Boulton said. “Zara sided-out like a champ and made some points and we’re through to the main draw which is exactly what we wanted.”
It is the third time this season that Dampney and Boulton have reached the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, after they made it through qualification at the Shanghai and Corrientes Grand Slams earlier in the year.
They teamed up at the end of 2012 after Dampney’s split with her London 2012 partner Shauna Mullin and Boulton and Denise Johns ended their time together. They are also now playing under the banner of England rather than Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which they had to adopt to compete at a home Olympic Games.
“It has been good so far,” Dampney said. “I think we all wanted a change after London and we’re keeping it fresh and working with new things now. Everything is new and it’s challenging, but it is nice and refreshing.”
Also into the next round are Canada’s Jamie-Lyn Broder and Kristina Valjas who held their nerve against local favourites Grazziella Lo Re and Giulia Toti to win 2-0 (21-11, 21-19).
They started quickly and won the first set, but after taking control of the second they were unable to shake off the Italians in front of a vociferous crowd. Eventually they refocused and held off Lo Re and Toti to reach the main draw.
“We came out really hard in the first set, we were very focused and we executed everything very well,” Broder said. “We had a little bit of a lapse in focus at the start of the second set, but I’m happy we could work back from that deficit and regain our focus to control the match again.
“I honestly expected them to be even louder. There were a few fans shouting here and there, but you’ve got to expect that when you’re playing the home team, so you’ve got to be ready for it.”
Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado, fresh from winning silver at The Hague Grand Slam last week won their match in straight sets, while there were victories for another five teams that guarantees their participation in the main draw that starts on June 19.
The Rome Grand Slam is the fourth Grand Slam of 10 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The competition runs from June 17 until June 23, when both the men’s and women’s finals take place.
Following the Rome Grand Slam, the world’s leading players take a week’s break before the start of the ninth FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki from July 1-7. After the World Championships are completed the World Tour resumes the following week at the Gstaad Grand Slam in the Swiss Alps.
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