Canadians set up Italy showdown in Kish
Kish Island, Iran, February 16, 2016 – Sam Pedlow and Grant O’Gorman continued their strong run of form from the end of 2015 to start the FIVB World Tour Kish Island Open with two wins from two on the opening day of the tournament, a day that featured some spectacular action.
First the Canadians defeated Austrians Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl 2-1 (25-23, 15-21, 15-10) and then followed up with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-13) victory over China’s Chen Cheng and Zhang Lizeng. With Italian twins Matteo and Paolo Ingrosso also winning both their matches it sets up a winner takes all encounter between the Pool C sides on Wednesday.
“We worked hard this off-season with a new coach and it seems to be paying off so far,” Pedlow said.
“The last time I played them was in the U21 Worlds in 2007, so I’m excited to be playing them again. It will be a battle for sure.”
Pedlow and O’Gorman are trying to pick up from where they left off at the end of 2015. They ended the year by winning silver at the NORCECA Continental Championships in Trinidad and Tobago, not long after they had recorded their best World Tour event result by reaching the quarter-finals of the Xiamen Open in September.
As such they had a shortened pre-season, but are full of confidence that O'Gorman can carry on fulfilling the potential he showed when he won the U19 bronze in 2011 and U21 silver in 2013.
“We didn’t start off-season till November 29 and we were back on the sand on January 4,” Pedlow added. “We trained from the fourth till February 4 and then went to California and then straight to here, so not much of an off-season for sure.
“We had a good end to the season and qualified for five events in a row and then we ended up with the opportunity to go to the Continental Championships and tried to take advantage and taking second was good for us.
“The plan was to peak at the end of the season and we feel we are still carrying that momentum and carrying right into this season.”
Rally of the day
Mexico's Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros made light work of home pair Ebrahim Sansabili and Abdolhamed Mirzaali in their Pool B clash. But they had to work hard for some points, and fell short on this occasion despite some speedy hands.
Qataris settling in to beach surrounds
Jefferson Santos and Cherif Younousse are among the teams who have had the least distance to travel, having enjoyed an-hour flight from Qatar and they showed their freshness by winning both encounters, the second of which came against a Mexican team that had to cross the Atlantic to reach Kish Island.
The first came against Belgian pair Dries Koekelkoren and Tom Van Walle and was a comfortable 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) win. They were pushed far harder in their second match though and needed a tie-break to see off Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros 2-1 (12-21, 21-16, 15-10).
Jefferson keeps the ball in play
“The first match was ok, but the second was hard and their service was so hard and we had to be patient,” Jefferson said. “It was a good battle, but they were spiking so strong and doing everything strong at the beginning. Then we had to come strong so that we could come back into the game.”
Jefferson and Cherif have only been playing together since the start of the 2015 season and they made the beach volleyball world sit up and take notice as they reached the quarter-finals of the Netherlands 2015, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
Now they have their eyes fixed on continuing to improve and to reach the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
“Our focus this year is on reaching the Olympic Games and we have a chance to qualify,” Jefferson said. “We are working hard to win points and focusing on building our confidence and to keep on improving.”
The Kish Island event is the first of the 11 Open tournaments to be staged by the FIVB in 2016, following on from Open events in Puerto Vallarta, Antalya and Doha in October and November last year, which heralded the start of the 2015-16 season. Qatar will host a second Open event in Doha from April 4 to 8.
The 2015-2016 beach volleyball calendar also includes five Grand Slams, three Major Series stops and the second edition of the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The beach volleyball tournament at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games which will take place on Copacabana Beach will be the highlight of the 2016 calendar.