Paris, France, June 24, 2007
Playing against top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, the No. 1-ranked team on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour the past two seasons, the 26-seeded Turner and Wacholder posted their “biggest” win of their partnership by defeating the Brazilians 21-17 and 21-16 in 41 minutes.
With the bronze medal and their “biggest” Beach Volleyball paycheck together of $23,000, Turner and Wacholder will share the Champ de Mars podium within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower with fellow Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who will play for the gold medal later Sunday afternoon against Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China.
“It is hard to say if that is our best played match this season, but it is easily our biggest victory,” said the 30-year old Turner, who was competing in her first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event with Wacholder. “Our side out game was very good and Rachel played great defense behind me. With the Eiffel Tower in the background and this event being in Paris, this is the highlight of my Beach Volleyball career.”
While Turner was claiming her first international medal, Wacholder was capturing her first medal since 2004 when she teamed with Walsh for three podium finishes when May-Treanor was sidelined before the Athens Olympic Games with an abdominal strain. After placing third with Walsh in a Norwegian stop, Wacholder won gold medals in Marseille and Austria for her “biggest: days on the SWATCH tour.
“This win over one of the great teams in the world will give us a lot of confidence,” said the 32-year old Wacholder, who had placed fourth and ninth in the first two Henkel Grand Chelem with Elaine Youngs. “Prior to this week’s event, we felt we could be competitive with the best teams in the world. We proved that today against Juliana and Larissa.”
Despite the win, Turner and Wacholder will have to qualify again for their next SWATCH-FIVB World Tour grand slam event starting Tuesday in Stavanger, Norway. The pair could face a possible country quota match Monday to gain a spot in the qualifier.
Turner and Wacholder had to win two qualifying matches this past Tuesday to gain a Main Draw berth where they upset seventh-seeded Tamsin Barnett and Natalie Cook of Australia in their first “money” match followed by wins over teams from France, Japan, Germany and Austria. Their seven-match winning streak ended Saturday in the first-semi-final when May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-16 and 21-12 win for their eighth-straight win this season over Turner and Wacholder.
The defending Henkel Grand Chelem champions, Juliana and Larissa struggler in their final three matches this weekend. After surviving their first match Saturday against a Chinese team with a 19-21, 26-24 and 18-16 win in 75 minutes over sixth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, the Brazilians could not handle third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang before losing 21-16 and 21-12 in 41 minutes.
The Henkel Grand Chelem, which will feature an All-Brazilian men’s gold medal match, concludes Sunday when the winning teams share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The Henkel Grand Chelem will also help finalize the entry list for the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships to be played July 24-29 in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS