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Visitors steal show at AVC Beach Volleyball Tour Samila Open in Thailand

China 2’s Li Jian stretches to retrieve a spike
Songkhla, Thailand, April 15, 2015 - The Thai teams all crashed out of the 16th “Samila-Chang” AVC Beach Volleyball Tour Thailand-Samila Open, as defending champions Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee of Thailand 1 and the Asian Games gold medallists Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko of Kazakhstan 1 suffered surprising quarterfinal knockouts on Wednesday.

A large crowd of local spectators survived the sapping heat at the Samila Beach in Songkhla to cheer on their favourite teams, only to see all of the Thai spikers eliminated from the $30,000 double-gender competition.

Title-holders and second seeds Varapatsorn and Tanarattha - current world No.61 and silver medallists at last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, Korea and the Asian Beach Games on home soil in Phuket - cruised past Japan 2’s Shinako Tanaka/Ayumi Kusano 2-0 (21-19 21-16) in the knockout round, but could not overcome a determined Jasita Putu Utami/Dhita Juliana of Indonesia 1 - bronze medallists at the Asian Beach Games - to go down in hard-fought three sets 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-10) in the quarterfinals.

Earlier, the Indonesians defeated Srinuch Kawpong/Pornsuda Kritsana 2-0 (21-9 21-0) in the knockout round, as Thailand 3’s duo suffered from injury and decided to withdraw from the ongoing contest. Another home side, Thailand 2’s Rumpaipruet Numwong/Khanittha Hongpak fell victim to Vanuatu’s Miller Pata/Linlin Matauatu - silver medallists at last week’s Thungsong meet - after easily losing 2-0 (21-13, 21-11) in the quarterfinals.

Top seeds Takemi Nishibori/Sayaka Mizoe of Japan 1 - winners at the Thungsong meet - also crashed out of the three-day competition after going down to Australia 2’s Becchara Palmer/Tamsin Hinchley 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. As the top two seeds in the women’s event were eliminated, third seeds and the Asian Beach Games gold medallists Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova proved to be an incredibly difficult nut to crack as the Kazakh duo powered their way to the semifinals following a convincing 2-0 (21-14 21-14) win over New Zealand 2’s Danielle Quigley/Melissa Ruru in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals on Thursday morning, Australia 2’s Palmer/Hinchley are due to challenge Vanuatu’s Pata/Matauatu. Kazakhstan’s Mashkova/Tsimbalova are to go up against Indonesia 1’s Jasita/Dhita.

Meanwhile, Iran 1’s Rahman Raoufi/Bahman Salemi Injehoroun and Iran 2’s Saber Hoshmand/Abbas Pourasgar made their country proud after storming their way into the semifinals in the men’s category.

The Iran 1 duo lived up to their billing as defending champions as they pulled off a magnificent come-from-behind 2-1 (13-21 21-18 15-9) victory in 50 minutes over top seeds Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, the Asian Games gold medallists in Incheon, Korea, fresh from claiming the title at last week’s AVC Beach Volleyball Tour Nakhon Si Open in Thungsong.

Iran 1’s Raoufi/Salemi are due to take on China 1’s Ha Likejiang/Bao Jian in Thursday’s semifinals. The Chinese pair came from behind to beat Oman 1’s Haitham Al-Sheroiqi/Ahmed Al-Housni 2-1 (18-21 25-23 16-14) in an epic 82-minute quarterfinal clash.

The other semifinal encounter sees Iran 2’s Hoshmand/Pourasqar next challenge New Zealand 1’s Watson/O’Dea. The Iranians outclassed Kazakhstan 2’s Dmitriy Yakovlev/Alexey Kuleshov 2-0 (21-17 21-19), while the Kiwis proved too strong for Prathip Sukto/Kittipat Yungtin to defeat Thailand 1’s duo 2-0 (21-8 21-14) in 36 minutes in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The Thai tandem had stunned second seeds Wu Jiaxin/Li Jian of China 2 - silver medallists at last week’s Thungsong meet - 2-1 (21-18 15-21 15-12) in the knockout round earlier.

On Thursday, the men’s and women’s semifinals will be held in the morning session, while the third-place playoffs and the final showdowns in both categories will take place in the afternoon. These will be followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.


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