Montreal, Canada, July 6, 2007 - It has been five years since Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have played at the Stade Uniprix in Jarry Park, but nothing has changed for the Americans since their last Montreal Open appearance in 2002 when the Beach Volleyball pair won the inaugural event.
With a pair of victories Friday, including an evening 21-12 and 21-13 win over fifth-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil in 36 minutes, May-Treanor and Walsh extended their Montreal Open winning streak to 11-straight matches to gain a spot in Saturday’s first women’s semi-final.
After posting their 12-straight win and 19th SWATCH victory in 26 FIVB matches against Adriana and Shelda, May-Treanor and Walsh watched as sixth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China captured Friday’s second available women’s “final four” spot in the US$400,000 Montreal Open with a 21-14 and 21-17 win in 39 minutes over seventh-seeded Vasso Karadassiou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece.
“We enjoyed playing here five years ago, and nothing has really changed,” said Walsh, who teamed with May-Treanor to defeat Adriana and Shelda for the 2002 Montreal Open title. “Obviously, both teams tonight are older and more experienced than our last match here. It is always an honor to play Adriana and Shelda. They have meant so much to the development of women’s Beach Volleyball world-wide. They are tremendous ambassadors of the sport.”
By increasing their FIVB record to 17-1 this season after placing first and third in their first two 2007 SWATCH starts in Paris and Norway, May-Treanor and Walsh will face the winners from the elimination matches featuring the Greeks, fourth-seeded Ana Paula Connelly/Leila Barros of Brazil and 14th-seeded Kathrine Maaseide/Susanne Glesnes of Norway.
Xue and Zhang, who have now advanced to their third SWATCH-FIVB World Tour semi-final this season, will be challenged by either Adriana/Shelda, third-seeded Natalie Cook/Tamsin Barnett of Australia or 12th-seeded Rebekka Kadijk/Merel Mooren of the Netherlands in Saturday’s second women’s “final four” match.
Friday’s biggest development was the elimination of second-seeded Jia Tian and Jie of China, who dropped back-to-back matches to Karadassiou/Arvaniti (15-21, 21-18 and 15-12) and the Dutch (22-20 and 22-20). Tian and Wang’s ninth-place was their lowest SWATCH placement in 12 FIVB starts since posting a 17th at last July’s stop in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The fifth of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Montreal Open continues through Sunday when the final two teams in both genders will compete for the $32,000 first-place prizes. The teams of Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos of Brazil and Andrew Schacht/Joshua Slack of Australia earned men’s “final four” spots earlier Friday on the Stade Uniprix centre court.
The Montreal Open is the only North American stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this year during the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The international Beach Volleyball circuit returns to Europe next week for the third of five “major” events in Berlin followed by a stop in Marseille before the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS