Warsaw, Poland, June 5, 2007 - Six teams from four countries advanced from the country quota playoffs here Tuesday to the Qualification Tournament for this week’s US$200,000 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open at Agrykola Prak in Mysliwiecka.
Three teams from host Poland advanced from the country quota playoffs to gain a berth in Wednesday’s qualifier where eight tandems will advance to Thursday’s opening “money” rounds in the fourth of 18 women’s events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar. Competition concludes Sunday when the final two teams compete for the $32,000 first-place prize.
With Agnieszka Kucypera and Justyna Lademan earning a bye in the country quota rounds due to their SWATCH-FIVB World Tour entry points, the teams of Ewa Kalinowska/Dorota Wrzochol, Katarzyna Ciesielska/Wiktoria Staszak-Staszkow and Monika Brzostek/Natalia Krawulska won preliminary matches Tuesday to advance to the qualifier.
When the 32-team Main Draw starts Thursday, Poland will have at least three teams competing, including Magdalena Michon-Szczytowicz/Agnieszka Woloszyn, Malgorzata Sobolewska/Dorota Wojtczak and Katarzyna Urban/Joanna Wiatr.
Urban and Wiatr, who claimed the SWATCH-FIVB World Championships for players under the age of 18 in 2004 before placing second in 2005 in the U-19s, became the first Polish women’s team to win a match on the international Beach Volleyball circuit with a 2006 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open victory against a tandem from Canada.
Maria Elisa Antonelli and Leão Vanilda dos Santos won two Brazilian country quota matches Tuesday over higher-ranked teams to advance along with Anouk Boileau/Marie-Christine Mondor of Canada and Miho Makabe/Sachie Oguri of Japan.
The Brazilian playoff schedule was reduced to only two matches after Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly withdrew due to injury. Ana Paula and Leila captured the bronze medal at the inaugural 000 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open last September. The Brazilians have also placed fourth in two of the three SWATCH stops this season in China and Korea.
With Ana Paula sidelined with a right thumb injury, Antonelli and Leão posted wins Agatha Bednarczuk/Shaylyn Bede (13-21, 21-18 and 15-13) and the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara, 21-19, 21-16), who finished ninth in the 2006 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open. Antonelli and Leão are competing in their second SWATCH event together after winning a country quota match last September in Brazil enroute to a 25th-place finish in Vitoria.
Also withdrawing Tuesday from the GE Money Bank Warsaw Open was Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway, who is tied for fourth on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour rankings. Stomach problems sidelined Torlen before the start of last week’s stop in Seoul where the pair placed 25th after forfeiting both of their matches.
In the previous four SWATCH events to end the 2006 season and to start the 2007 campaign, Hakedal and Torlen had placed fifth, seventh, third, fourth, second and fifth for the best stretch of FIVB finishes for a women’s team from Norway. The first fifth at the 2006 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open
The GE Money Bank Warsaw Open is also the fourth qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the process runs through July 20, 2008 to determine the 24-team fields per gender. A team’s best eight finishes from SWATCH FIVB World Tour events and FIVB-recognized Continental Championship Finals will be counted.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS