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Pootsorn prepares Thai teams for world stage

Thailand's Varapatsorn Radarong keeps the ball in play
Bangkok, Thailand, June 19, 2014 - With the qualification process for the beach volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympics less than a year away, Petcharat Pootsorn is preparing Thailand's women’s teams for the next edition of the Summer Games.

Thailand recently advanced its two teams to the elimination rounds of the Asian Volleyball Conference Beach Volleyball Championships in Jinang, China, where Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee placed second.

"They are playing very well," said the 41-year old Pootsorn. "Both are making progress and I believe they will get better as we get more experience in international competition."

Seeded fourth in the AVC Championships on Yakou Beach in the Fujian province of China, Radarong and Udomchavee won three of their four pool play matches on June 5-6, before posting a pair of elimination victories on June 7 over teams from Kazakhstan and China. In advancing to the finals, the Thai team posted a 21-18, 21-18 semifinal win on June 8 over Sayaka Mizoe and Takemi Nishibori of Japan.

Fifth-seeded Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy were the only team to defeat Radarong and Udomchavee in Jinang, as the Australians posted a 21-15 and 21-14 victory over the Thais on June 5, before scoring a 23-21 and 21-13 victory in the June 8 finals.

It was the second consecutive year Radarong and Udomchavee claimed a silver medal at the AVC Championships. The Thai pair also dropped a 21-16, 21-18 decision in the 2013 finals in Wuhan, China to the host country pair of Yuan Yee and Yuanyuan Ma.

"Varapatsorn and Tanarattha have discipline and are very diligent," said Pootsorn, who is an officer in the Royal Thai Air Force and has been working with the Thai Beach Volleyball players since 2002.  "Their goal is to earn a berth for the Rio Games and we have the support from the Volleyball Association of Thailand and the Sport Authority of Thailand."

With a training center at Valaya University in Bangkok, Pootsom said the Volleyball Association of Thailand has developed a selection process featuring head-to-head competitions to determine the best teams to represent the country internationally.

In addition to Radarong and Udomchavee, who are currently listed ninth on the 2014 FIVB Season Rankings, Thailand is also developing other teams for the Olympic Beach Volleyball qualifying process. The country’s women placed fourth in the AVC’s Continental Cup competition for the London 2012 Summer Games.

The Thai team of Yupa Phokongploy and Usa Tenpaksee are currently ranked 44th internationally, after placing ninth in Jinang. Phokongploy and Tenpaksee captured the gold medal at April’s AVC tour stop in Ha Long, Vietnam, where the Thai pair defeated Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho of Australia in the finals.

Khanittha Hongpak (20) and Rumpaipruet Numwong (19) are  the youngest of the top three Thai tandems. They posted a pair of seventh-placed finishes on the AVC tour this season and currently rank 48th in the 2014 FIVB Season Rankings list.

"They are doing well and progress according to the plan," said Pootsorn of Hongpak and Numwong.  "We are confident that they will do well later on. They are very strong physically, and because of that, I think there would be no problem with their current height.  Hopefully, they may grow taller. We like them to progress, but not too fast.”

Radarong and Udomchavee are scheduled to return to FIVB World Tour competition next month as the Thai pair has entered Grand Slam stops in Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, Austria and Poland.  Radarong and Udomchavee have competed in five FIVB events this season with a season-best finish of ninth in Fuzhou, China, where the Thai were eliminated by Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia of the host country.

The 2013 season was Radarong and Udomchavee’s first full campaign on the FIVB World Tour, where the pair competed in 11 events, with fifth-place finishes in Anapa, Russia, and Durban, South Africa. Overall, Radarong and Udomchavee have competed together in 26 FIVB World Tour events since 2007.


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