Newcomers upset top seeded teams in Durban qualifications
USA’s Derek Olson and Tri Bourne, ranked 17th, first disposed of Denmark’s Peter Kildegaard and Martin Olesen (21-8 21-17), before they upset fellow countrymen and number 1 seeded William Montgomery and Stafford Slick in two sets (21-14 21-15).
Other newcomers, 15th seeded Philipp Arne Bergmann and Malte Stiel from Germany, shocked Sao Paulo’s silver medallist Casey Jennings and his new partner Theodore Brunner with a 2-1 win (18-21 21-19 15-8).
The Germans eliminated Russia’s Ostap Firsov and Maxim Zhirkov (21-12 21-16) in the first qualification round and knew that they were in for a ‘treat’ in their next game.
“Before our first game we knew that if we won we had to play against Casey Jennings”, said Stiel. “It’s a player that has a lot of experience and we have a lot of respect for. So we knew it would be a hard match. That he would not make any stupid mistakes, so we knew we had to fight for every point.”
After losing the first set the Germans made a spectacular comeback against the second seeded Americans, due to their ‘confusing’ tactics. Stiel: “First we served on Jennings, after a few points we changed the setting. Always tried to do something different in block defence against his partner. So that he did not know what to expect and make him a bit insecure. That was our tactic and it worked well.”
Being a new team will work in their advantage, said Stiel about their chances in main draw. “We can play free. Nobody expects anything from us. Every point is a win for us. We can just play and fight for every point. That’s easy to play.”
With Jennings and Brunner out, Olson and Bourne will be the only US team left at the Durban Open. And they don’t feel sorry about having eliminated their fellow Americans Montgomery and Slick either.
Bourne: “This is what we came here to do. We know this team pretty well, because we have been training with them before this tournament. We just played our game and came out on top.”
Olson and Bourne played on the AVP before they tried their luck at a FIVB event, without any expectations. “It’s the World Tour so of course it’s going to be a step up from most tournaments we play in”, Bourne said. “We have a really good domestic tour so that trains us well for it. But we knew every team was going to be tough.”
Defeating the top seeded in qualification gave them a big boost. Olson: “Qualifiers are always stressful. So, to get through that is huge. Tomorrow we can be a little more relaxed but we want to do a lot more in this tournament for sure. Obviously we want to do well. Knock some high seeds off and do some damage.”
Bourne: “We want to take down the one and two seeds in this tournament. Put that one down.”
The other men’s teams that advanced were China’s Chen/Li, Austria’s Dressler/Kunert and Eglseer/Koraimann, Kovatsch/J. Kissling from Switzerland, Russia’s Pastukhov/Goncharov and Venezuela’s Jackson/Leon.