Stavanger, Norway, June 25, 2007 - It was Germany’s turn to play a pair of country quota matches here Monday in the US$600,000 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam as teams from Brazil and the United States also competed in the preliminary rounds to finalize the field for this week’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour women’s Qualification Tournament.
In the first of two SWATCH stops to be staged in Norway this summer, the world’s best Beach Volleyball players return to the Scandinavian country for the ninth-straight season on the dock side City Centre courts at Vaagen Harbour. The second Norwegian SWATCH stop will be August 7-12 in Kristiansand.
Last week, it was Brazil’s turn to play the two country quota matches in the Paris grand slam stop where the legendary team of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede were eliminated on the first day of competition by the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara).
With Adriana and Shelda receiving a “wild card” for this week’s Main Draw after placing second in the 2006 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam, the Salgado had to play Shelda’s sister (Shaylyn) and Agatha Bednarczuk for the third-time this season in the country quota playoffs and the seventh-time since 2006.
In three sets, the Salgados posted a 21-17, 14-21 and 16-14 win in 59 minutes over Agatha and Shaylyn to advance to Tuesday’s ”official” start of the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam, the fourth of 13 double gender events this season. The 32-team qualifier will determine the last eight spots in the women’s Main Draw that starts Wednesday and concludes Saturday when the final two teams compete for the $43,500 first-place prize.
Before the Germans finished their second match Monday, Jen Boss and April Ross avenged their country quota setback last week in Paris to Holly McPeak and Logan Tom by defeating their American rivals 21-14 and 23-21 in 42 minutes. In Paris within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, McPeak and Tom won the country quota match 25-23, 16-21 and 18-16 in 68 minutes over Boss and Ross.
Now for Germany, an injury for Geeske Banck, who was playing with Susanne Lahme, advanced Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler to the next round where Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig won a spot in the qualifier with a 26-24, 19-21 and 15-9 win in 57 minutes over their younger rivals. In Paris, Goller and Ludwig ousted Banch and Lahme 20-22, 21-16 and 15-10 in the country quota playoffs.
Goller and Ludwig, who placed second in the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event two weeks ago in Portugal where the Germans advanced through the qualifier to the finals with seven-straight wins before losing to Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca in three sets, now have a 3-1 country quota mark against Holtwick and Semmler with three-straight wins.
With three teams already in the women’s Main Draw, Norway will have the tandems of Sigrid Aasen/Janne Kongshavn and Kristine Fossen/Ragnhild Aas vying for spots in qualifier for Wednesday’s opening “money”” rounds. Already competing for the Norwegians in the Main Draw are Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen, Susanne Glesnes/Kathrine Maaseide and Eydis Dalen/Kristine Wiig.
With the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships five weeks away in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam is also the seventh qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the process runs through July 20, 2008. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues next week in Canada before returning to Europe for the third grand slam event in Berlin July 10-15 followed by an event in Marseille prior to the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships.