The Hague, Netherlands, August 26, 2010 - With wet conditions again impacting play at the US$380,000 Milner Open here Thursday, two Dutch women’s teams posted victories over Beach Volleyball pairs from Australian and the United States with Olympic credentials during the opening three rounds of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Main Draw competition.
The host country tandems of ninth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel and 10th-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marloes Wesselink posted two wins each Thursday to advance to the third-round of the winner’s bracket where the Dutch pairs will play the top two-ranked teams on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour from Brazil in opening winner’s bracket matches Friday.
Keizer and Van Iersel defeated 25th-seeded Australian Olympians Tamsin Barnett Hinchley and Natalie Cook 23-21 and 21-16 in 39 minutes in their opening match Thursday followed by a 21-15 and 24-22 victory in 40 minutes over the eighth-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara), the sixth-ranked team on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
With the two wins, Keizer and Van Iersel will challenge Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca for the first-time in 2010 in their opening match Friday as the top-seeded Brazilians defeated pairs from Portugal and Belgium Thursday to improve their season record to 68-5 for the 2010 season. Juliana and Larissa, who clinched their fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour championship in the last six seasons last week in Finland, posted a 4-0 mark over Keizer and Van Iersel last season.
After defeating 23rd-seeded qualifiers Luana Madeira and Liliane Maestrini of Brazil 23-25, 21-17 and 16-14 in 60 minutes, Meppelink and Wesselink downed seventh-seeded American Olympians Nicole Branagh and Misty May-Treanor 21-18, 16-21 and 15-10 in 43 minutes. The Dutch pair will play second-seeded Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes of Brazil Friday in the first SWATCH meeting between the two teams.
Meppelink has now posted Milner Open wins in 2009 and 2010 over players with FIVB world championship and Olympic credentials for the United States. May-Treanor is a three-time world and two-time Olympic champion. Jen Kessy and April Ross, Meppelink’s victims with Margo Wiltens in last year’s Milner Open, were 2009 FIVB world champions.
In other opening winner’s bracket matches Friday, 12th-seeded Cristine "Saka" Santanna and Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins of Georgia play 13th-seeded Angie Akers and Tyra Turner of the United States while third-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China meet Vivian Cunha and Taiana Lima of Brazil. Xue and Zhang ended Juliana and Larissa’s 40-match SWATCH FIVB World Tour last week in Finland by defeating the Brazilians in the gold medal match.
Sixteen other teams remain in the Milner Open competition with one defeat each as the competition continues through the weekend. With semi-final action for both genders Saturday afternoon, the medal matches will be played Sunday on The Hague BeachStadion courts. The winning teams in each gender will share the $30,000 first-place prizes.
Top eight Milner Open seeds still in the contender’s bracket are the fourth-seeded Kessy/Ross, fifth-seeded Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli, Branagh/May-Treanor and the Salgado sisters, who will play compatriots Luana and Liliana in an opening elimination match Friday. Another featured opening match will have an Olympic flair with Hinchley/Cook facing Branagh/May-Treanor. Cook is a four-time Olympian with a bronze (Atlanta 1996) and gold (Sydney 2000) Summer Games medal to her credit with Keri Pottharst.
With the Milner Open being the last of 14 men’s events on the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour, the women’s 15-stop circuit will conclude at the end of October and the first of November with stops in China (Sanya, October 26-31) and Thailand (Phuket, November 2-7). The international Beach Volleyball tour will have visited 17 sites in 14 countries over an eight-month period in 2010 with $6.83-million in prize money.
photos Janos Schmidt