Czech Republic and Poland knock out South African qualifiers at Durban Open
In the first and only women’s qualification round on Durban’s New Beach Czech team Martina Jakubsova and Diana Zolnercikova defeated Sheana-Alice Abrahams and Natasha Strydom 21-13 21-14 and Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska and Maria Wloch sent home Anneta Frederiksen and Gadija Jappie: 21-9 21-9.
That leaves South Africa with two women’s teams in main draw, which starts with pool play on Thursday.
Abrahams and Strydom trailed throughout their first FIVB match but made a strong comeback in the second, almost closing the gap with the Czech girls at 13-11. But Jakubsova and Zolnercikova regrouped and finished the game at their third match point.
Except for Zolnercikova, who finished 33rd at the Sao Paulo Grand Slam this year, none of the players on centre court had any FIVB experience. “This is all so new to me”, said 25-year old Jakubsova, who recently moved from indoor to beach. “It’s a huge experience and I love it. It’s amazing.”
“It was our first match together in a big competition, so we were quite nervous. In the first set my teammate had a really good rally on her serve. In the second set it was quite the same, from the beginning we played quite good, had some difficulties but we ended in a good way.”
The Czech pair will continue in main draw with more confidence. Jakubsova: “We had some great digs, worked hard and know now we can trust each other. So we hope for some good results and maybe we will make it out of the pool.”
Polish U21 world champion Jagoda Gruszczynska was not so happy about their play at their first FIVB Open. “We made a lot of mistakes”, she said. “We played together for the first time and I also had to play on block for the first time. That’s a big change. It was an easy match though.”
She and her partner Maria Wloch really overpowered South Africa’s Frederiksen and Jappie, who could not handle the Polish serving pressure at all. But in the end the Polish pair lost focus and made some unforced errors.
“But this is our first event and I am in main draw so I feel good”, said Gruszczynska. “But I want to play better than today. I hope maybe tomorrow we will be better.
The other six teams that moved into main draw had a bye in qualification: China’s Wang/Zheng and Lin/Tang, Germany’s Behrens/Seyfferth, Brazil’s Rodrigues Ferreira/Santos Lisbao, Vorlova/Tresnakova from the Czech Republic and USA’s Day/McGiven.