Paris, France, June 19, 2007 - Men’s teams from Brazil and the United States entertained the Champ de Mars Beach Volleyball crowd here Tuesday afternoon to earn the final two spots in the Qualification Tournament for this week’s US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem.
The tandems of Harley Marques/Pedro Salgado and Matt Fuerbringer/Sean Scott won the Brazilian and American country quota matches, respectively, to advance to Wednesday’s qualifier in the first of five “major” stops on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar.
The third annual Henkel Grand Chelem continues through Sunday when the gold medal teams in the third of 13 double gender events on the 2007 international Beach Volleyball calendar earn the $43,500 first-place prizes in a SWATCH stop within walking distance of the famed Eiffel Tour.
Harley and Salgado, who scored their second-straight country quota win in two weeks over Benjamin Insfran and Bruno Da Paula 21-16, 19-21 and 15-13 in 59 minutes. Last week enroute to a fourth-place finish in Portugal, Harley and Salgado posted a 17-21, 21-19 and 15-12 victory in 76 minutes over Benjamin and Bruno.
In a meeting of two American teams playing together for the first-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Fuerbringer and Scott posted a 14-21, 21-16 and 15-11 win in 64 minutes Jason Ring and Kevin Wong. It was also the first participation by American men’s team on the international circuit due to their participation in domestic events the past two-plus months.
The 32-team Henkel Grand Chelem Qualification Tournament starts Wednesday morning as eight tandems will advance to Thursday’s opening pool play rounds. Tuesday’s country quota matches were needed due to both nations already placing three teams each in the “money” rounds due to FIVB entry points.
The finalists from the 2006 Henkel Grand Chelem return this season as Brazil’s Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes defeated Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in the Brazil vs. USA gold medal match. Gibb was also a finalist in the inaugural Paris stop when he teamed with Stein Metzger to claim the 2005 silver medal after losing to Switzerland’s Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel in the Champ de Mars finale.
Other Brazilians already in the Main Draw are reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos and Pedro Cunha/Franco Neto. Those two teams played this past Sunday in Espinho for the gold medal with Emanuel and Ricardo winning in three-sets for their 25th FIVB gold medal together.
Metzger returns with Mike Lambert as the pair finished fifth in last year’s event after losing to Gibb and Rosenthal in the contender’s bracket quarterfinals. Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, the American domestic leaders with five titles this season, also return after placing ninth on the Champ de Mars last July. The next week in the Austrian Grand Slam, Dalhausser and Rogers defeated Emanuel and Ricardo for the gold medal.
The Henkel Grand Chelem, which is also the part of the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympics where 24 teams per gender will be competing for the Summer Games gold medals, will also help to finalize the entry list for the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships to be played July 24-29 in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad. The $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, the second-most prestigious Beach Volleyball event on the planet behind the Olympics, will feature 48-team Main Draws for both men and women
Following the Henkel Grand Chelem, Norway hosts the next SWATCH Grand Slam stop in Stavanger next week. Berlin is the site of the third major event (July 10-15) followed by the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships. The SWATCH Grand Slam series ends the first week in August at Klagenfurt, Austria.