Hermannova/Bonnerova make Shanghai Grand Slam Main Draw with upset win
Shanghai, China, April 30, 2014 – Lowly ranked Barbora Hermannova and Martina Bonnerova of Czech Republic upset top seeded qualifiers Whitney Pavlik and Jennifer Fopma of the United States here on Wednesday to join Juliana Silva/Maria Antonelli and six other teams in the winners of women’s qualification tournament of the US$800,000 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam.
Seeded 17th in the 24-team QT, Hermannova/Bonnerova outlasted Laura Bloem/Marloes Wesselink from the Netherlands 2-1 (28-26, 25-27, 15-7) before sweeping Pavlik/Fopma 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) to secure their berth in the women’s Main Draw, which is to kick off on Thursday morning.
“It’s amazing to be in the Main Draw. For the first time in a long time, from qualification to the Main Draw,” said Hermannova after the second round match against the American tandem. “We had good service and good side-outs. I think that’s the key to our victory.”
Bonnerova thought the victory in the first match, which was even more difficult, boosted their morale and confidence.
“We really appreciated these victories,” she said. “The first match against the Netherlands were really tough, but we made it, I am happy because we often lost tough matches. But we won this time. We trusted ourselves, it feels great.”
Hermannova/Bonnerova vowed to have better performance in the Main Draw of the Shanghai Grand Slam, where they failed to win a single match last year.
“Our first goal is to get out of the pool. It will be difficult because there are so many good teams here. We will do our best,” Bonnerova added. “Last year we were ninth in Fuzhou, but didn’t win any match here, we want to have better results this time.”
Juliana/Antonelli, who had finished runners-up to Kerri Walsh/April Ross of the United States in Fuzhou, beat off two match points before posting two wins in a row to advance to the 32-team Main Draw tournament of the first Grand Slam event of the season.
Delivering Diana Zolnercikova/Martina Jakubsova from Czech Republic 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) in a first round clash, Juliana/Antonelli met serious challenge from Thailand's Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee in the second round. After squandering a 20-19 lead to lose the second set at 23-21, Juliana/Antonelli trailed most of the way in the tiebreaker before tying it at 15-all. A spike of Radarong pushed the Thai tandem up again, but Juliana soon answered with a smash and blocked Radarong on the next play to help her side overtake the lead at 17-16. The Thais called a time-out to cool down, only to find Juliana come back to win another fight against Radarong over the net and seal the 2-1 (21-14, 21-23, 18-16) victory in 54 minutes.
“The qualification tournament is very difficult to play,” said Antonelli. “The team from Thailand played very well and I think the difference was our service and focus.”
Juliana played domestically in 2013 following the retirement of her legendary teammate Larissa Franca with whom she won an unprecedented seven FIVB World Tour season point championships between 2005 and 2012 and the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. Having had a good start of the new season together by winning the silver at the Fuzhou Open, Juliana and her new partner tried to keep a low profile. “The first thing is to win this match to go to the Main Draw and then we’ll take it step by step," Antonelli added.
Other teams making it to the women’s Main Draw are Julia Großner/Victoria Bieneck (Germany), Erika Nystrom/emilia Nystrom (Finland), Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug (Argentina), Gioria Daniela/Laura Giombini (Italy), Martha Revuelta/Candelas Bibiana (Mexico) and Mariafe Artacho/Nicole Laird (Australia).
Featuring newly crowned Fuzhou Open champions Kerri Walsh/April Ross of the United States, defending Shanghai Grand Slam champions Talita Da Rocha Antunes/Taiana Lima from Brazil and Fuzhou Open bronze medalists Xue Chen/Xia Xinyi of China, the women’s Main Draw tournament will start on Thursday morning. Thirty-two teams will play a single round robin in eight groups with top three finishers from each group to advance to the 24-team knockout stage.
The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.