Identical Italians inspiring
Gstaad, Switzerland, July 11, 2014 - It was an inspiring day for the identical Italian twins here Friday as Matteo and Paolo Ingrosso attempted to rebound from a pair of setbacks the previous day at the 15th annual Gstaad Grand Slam.
After losing the first set (21-15) Friday morning to 19th-seeded Isaac Kapa and Christopher McHugh of Australia, the 30th-seeded Ingrossos rallied to post a 2-1 win by capturing the second and third sets by the score of 21-18 and 26-24 in the longest men’s match (73 minutes) of the US$800,000 Gstaad Grand Slam.
With the seed-break-through over the Australians after losing Thursday to highly-regarded pairs from Brazil and The Netherlands Thursday, the Ingrossos earned their first spot in a Grand Slam elimination round this season after failing in their previous three efforts in Shanghai, Moscow and Stavanger.
With an opportunity to post Italy’s best finish in the men’s competition this week, the Ingrossos came up short when 17th-seeded Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland eliminated the twins 2-1 (24-22, 18-21 and 17-15) in the second-longest match this week (64 minutes).
In the match with Kadziola and Szalankiewicz, the Ingrossos led 4-2, 7-5, 11-8 and 14-13 in the third and deciding set on an outer court in the Swiss Alps village. With Szalankiewicz leading the way, the Poles gain a 15-14 advantage and scored four of the last five points of the match.
“We are very tired,” said Paolo Ingrosso after the match as an Italian trainer was working on his right shoulder. “The Poles were much stronger at the end and just played better than us when it counted. We had our chances to win both the first and the deciding set against the Poles, but could not make the big play to win the sets.”
Overall, Paolo Ingrosso was “very pleased and inspired by his team’s performance this week. We had to win a pair of qualifying matches Wednesday against teams from Switzerland and Norway to advance to the Main Draw. We had a lot of pressure on us throughout the tournament and I feel that we handled it pretty well.”
“We played a lot of matches this week,” said Paolo Ingrosso, “and I feel we made a pretty good progress with our game. The disappointment was that we did not play well enough to win all our matches. We extended the world champions to three sets yesterday and really did not let the Brazilians dominate us. The key for us is to get stronger.”
During Thursday’s opening pool play matches, the Ingrossos dropped a 2-0 (21-17 and 21-17) decision to third-seeded Emanuel Rego and Pedro Salgado of Brazil and 14th-seeded and 2013 FIVB world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands 2-1 (21-19, 19-21 and 15-11) in 53 minutes.
The Ingrossos, who have been playing regularly on the international circuit since 2009 after winning a bronze medals at the under 19 world championships in 2006 and the under 21 world championships in 2008, were playing in their 45th FIVB World Tour event. The twins placed second in an “open” FIVB event earlier this season in Mexico along with posting 25th, 33rd and 33rd in their three Grand Slam starts.
“We are not the biggest and strongest team on the world tour,” Paolo Ingrosso added after his team’s sixth match in three days where damp and cool weather conditions prevailed, “but I feel that we used our ability to the fullest each time. We played the world’s best teams and I feel inspired by our performance.”