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FIVB World Tour “opens” European Schedule

Philip Gabathuler lifts partner Mirco Gerson on his back after the Swiss pair captured a FIVB World Tour bronze medal at the 2014 stop in Stavanger, Norway.
Lucerne, Switzerland, May 9, 2015 - After opening the international Beach Volleyball season in Asia, the FIVB World Tour returns to Europe for the first of five-straight tournaments on the continent with an “Open” stop in Switzerland for the second qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The US$150,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Lucerne Open 2015 will be played next week (May 11-17) on courts at the Lidostrasse on Lake Lucerne and will feature both men’s and women’s competition.  The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prizes along with earning 250 individual points that will count towards qualifying for Rio 2016 Summer Games.


Lucerne now joins Gstaad as Swiss sites on the 2015 FIVB World Tour.  While Gstaad has been a regular stop on the FIVB World Tour since 2000 and host site for the FIVB World Championships in 2007, Lucerne’s only international events were European confederation events for four years (2005-2008).

Sitting on the north end of Lake Lucerne amid snowcapped mountains, Lucerne has a storybook image of a Swiss town featuring the colorful Altstadt (Old Town), the 14th-century Museggmauer city walls, covered bridges, and spired, turreted buildings.


Women’s play opens Monday (May 11) with potential country quota playoff followed by a Tuesday qualifier and the opening main draw rounds Wednesday and Thursday.  The women’s semi-final will be Saturday followed by the medal matches Sunday.  The men’s schedule features potential country quota matches Tuesday, a Wednesday qualifier and main draw matches Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading to Sunday’s “final four” pairings.


Headlining the field for the host country will be the pairs of Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr and Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson.  Switzerland has placed four teams in the women’s main draw and three pairs in the men’s money rounds.

Other Swiss women’s pairs joining Heidrich and Zumkehr in the main draw are Tanja Goricanec/Tanja Hüberli, Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Nina Betschart/Nicole Eiholzer.  The teams of Jonas Kissling/Mats Kovatsch and Nico Beeler/Alexei Strasser will be competing in the men’s main draw with Gabathuler and Gerson.

Other potential main draw participants for Switzerland are the women's pair of Dunja Gerson/Tanya Guerra Arias- Schmocker and the men's tandem of Sebastian Chevallier/Marco Krattiger.  The length of the Lucerne Open schedule for both teams depends on their advancement from the qualification tournament where eight pairs from each gender's competition will earn a spot in the money rounds.


With the 2015 FIVB World Championships to be played in The Netherlands starting next month at four sites in the European country, the featured pairs in the Lucerne Open will include the “surprise” medal winners from the 2013 world championships held in Stare Jablonki, Poland.

Karla Borger and Britta Büthe, the seventh-ranked team on the 2014 FIVB World Tour and 2015 Lucerne Open main draw entry, earned the second spot on the Stare Jablonki world championship podium despite being seeded 17th in the competition.  The Germans won seven-straight matches in Stare Jablonki before losing to China’s Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in the three-set finale.

Like Borger and Büthe, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands were not a highly-seeded team entering the 2013 Stare Jablonki worlds (13th overall).  But the 2015 Lucerne Open Dutch entries captured the “prestigious” world championship gold medal by upsetting four higher seeded teams at the 2013 world championships, including Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik in the semi-finals.

Erdmann and Matysik, who will also be competing the Lucerne Open, rebounded from their semi-final in Stare Jablonki to join the Dutch on the 2013 world champion podium by claiming the bronze medal after upsetting London 2012 Olympic silver medalists Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil.


With the 2015 FIVB World Tour opening last month in China, three medal winning teams from Fuzhou will be competing in the Lucerne Open, including Brouwer and Meeuwsen.  The Dutch placed second in Fuzhou after losing the gold medal match to Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen of Germany.  While the Germans are not entered for the Lucerne Open, Fuzhou fourth-place finishers Todd Rogers and Stafford Slick of the United States will have to qualify for the main draw this week.

The women’s teams of Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas of Canada and Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany will be seeking their second FIVB World Tour medals this season after advancing to the Fuzhou finals.  Broder and Valjas defeated their German rivals in the three-set Fuzhou title match as the Canadians captured their country’s first-ever women’s gold medal on the FIVB World Tour.


Following the Lucerne Open, the men will take the next week off while the women compete in a Czech Republic “Open” event May 19-24 in Prague.  The two genders resume competition together at the end of May (25-31) with the Moscow Grand Slam.  The FIVB World Tour remains in Europe for “Major Series” stops in Croatia (Porec, June 1-7)) and Norway (Stavanger, June 8-14) before crossing the Atlantic for the final world championship “tune up” in the United States for the St. Petersburg Grand Slam in Florida (June 15-21).


The Lucerne Open will be the 316th FIVB-sanctioned men’s Beach Volleyball event since the international federation began play in 1987.  The FIVB first sanctioned women’s event was in 1982 with the Lucerne Open being the 279th tournament.


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