Qatar, Vanuatu share honours at Khanom Asian Beach Volleyball Tour
Qataris’ Tiago De J Santos and Pereira Santos walked away with the men's gold, after a hard-fought three-set win over Kazakhs Alexandr Dyachenko and Alexey Sidorenko.
The women’s honour went to Elvin Miller and Latika Henriette of Vanuatu, who defied against all odds to stun Australia No. 1 team, Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho, with a magnificent come-from-behind victory, 2-1 (13-21 21-12 and 15-11) in 46 minutes.
In the men's final on Friday, Qatar No. 1 pair, Tiago De J Santos and Pereira Santos set up a daunting clash against Dyachenko and Sidorenko of Kazakhstan, who won the 2012 edition. After the opening set loss 18-21, the Qataris turned up heat on a tough fight against the Kazakhs to win the next two sets 21-19 and 15-12, in the gruelling 61-minute showdown.
Third place went to Kazakhstan No. 2 team Dmitriy Yakovlev and Alexey Kuleshov, after producing a nail-biting 2-1 (15-21 21-19 and 15-13) win against Iran R. Raoufi and B.Salemi.
In the semi-finals, Kazakhstan No. 1 team Dyachenko and Sidorenko beat Iran R Raoufi and B. Salemi 2-1 (19-21 21-13 15-11). With the victory, Dyachenko/Sidorenko advanced to the final round, making a step closer to retaining their pride lost in the last year's showdown against Aussies Leonard Isaac Kapa and Christopher Bernard McHugin. However, the Kazakh duo's dreams turned into a nightmare following their stunning loss to Qatar in the showdown.
The other semi-final encounter saw Qatar No. 1 Tiago De J Santos and Pereira Santos power past Kazakhstan No. 2 Yakovlev/Kuleshov 2-0 (21-18 and 21-14).
Contesting the quarter-finals, Kazakhstan Alexandr Dyachenko and Alexey Sidorenko brushed off Indonesia’s No. 1 Koko Prasetyo Darkkuncoro and Ade Candra Rahmawan – winners of the 2012 Asian Beach Games in China – in comfortable straight sets 2-0 (21-15 and 21-17).
Iran’s R. Raoufi and B Salembi also made a successful comeback after losing the first set 23-25 to Australia’s Joshua Court and Damien Schumann, to win the remaining two sets (21-14 15-13), while Qatar's Tiago De J Santos and Pereira Santos challenged P. Farrokhi and A. Salagh to defeat Iran’s tandem (19-21 21-13 15-12).
Kazakhstan No. 2 team Dmitriy Yakovlev and Alexey Kuleshov downed New Zealand No. 2, Samuel O'dea and Michael Watson 2-0 (21-7 and 21-16).
In the women's event, Vanuatu's Miller and Latika Henriette succumbed the easy first set defeat 13-21 at the hands of Australia No. 1 Mariafe Artacho and Nicole Laird, but they bounced back to take the remaining two sets (21-12 and 15-11) and the 46-minute championship match.
The third place was won by Kazakhstan 1's Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, who entirely smashed Thai dreams following the 16-21 21-13 16-14 win in the hotly-contested showdown against Thailand No. 1 Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee.
The semi-finals earlier saw Laird/Artacho stun the 2012 Asian Beach Games gold medalists Udomchavee-Radarong of Thailand (22-20 and 21-15), with Vanuatu's Miller/Henriette beating Kazakhstan’s Mashkova/Tsimbalova in a three-set thriller (15-21 21-17 and 15-12) in 53 minutes.
On Saturday, all the participating players will move to Songkhla province to continue the battle at the 15th Samila-Chang Asian Beach Volleyball Tour, from April 14 to 16.
All the players will be invited to join a festival on Sunday, as Thailand celebrates Songkran Day, the Water Sparkling Festival. The athletes are invited to march around the city for the fun-packed water splashing festival.
The preliminaries of the Samila meet will kick off April 14.