PARIS, FRANCE, June 18, 2008 - Rebekka Kadijk and Merel Mooren got a second chance at this week’s US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem and took advantage of a “Lucky Loser” berth in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour event here Wednesday to post two opening pool play wins.
The Dutch women, who dropped their final qualifying match Tuesday afternoon to Cristine "Saka" Santanna and Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins of Georgia, won a “Lucky Loser” draw with a team from Canada to advance as the 31st-seeded team in the fourth annual Henkel Grand Chelem women’s Main Draw.
Playing three-time SWATCH FIVB World Tour point’s champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, Kadijk and Mooren were awarded a victory with the second-seeded Brazilians leading 18-15 in the second set after the Dutch pair won the opening set 21-16. The match was stopped due to a right knee injury for Juliana as she competed at the net against Kadijk.
In Kadijk and Mooren’s second match Wednesday, the Dutch posted a 21-13 and 21-16 win in 30 minutes over 15th-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany to assume leadership in Pool B. The Germans are tied for second in their pool with the 18th-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) of Austria as Juliana was not able to play her second match Wednesday.
Kadijk, who turned 29 Monday, is a two-time Olympian as she and Mooren are trying to secure a Beijng 2008 Summer Games berth before the end of the qualifying process next month in Marseille, France. The Dutch started the week with 1,840 Beijing points and added another 40 points with their two wins Wednesday.
Being played on the Champs de Mars within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, Kadijk and Mooren benefited from a late withdrawal due to a back injury for Germany’s Rieke Abeler-Brink, who was scheduled to play this week with Hella Jurich. During the “Lucky Loser” draw, the Dutch’s name was picked over Canadians’ Dana Cooke and Annie Martin.
European teams can also use one of their two finishes in the continential championships in 2007 and 2008. One of Kadijk and Mooren’s best finishes was a ninth for 200 points last August in Valencia. The 2008 European championships will be played July 10-13 in Hamburg, Germany. “This is great,’ said the 25-year old Mooren. “We were so close in our pool last week in Berlin, but failed to advance. With a new life this week, we feel we are playing very well at the right time of the season. Now, to get one more win tomorrow.”
In Pool A, top-seeded and defending Henkel Grand Chelem champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States won a pair of matches Wednesday over teams from France and Cuba. With a 50-match SWATCH FIVB World Tour winning streak, the Americans play 16th-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig for the Pool A title Thursday and a “bye” for the first-round of single-elimination play.
Four groups follow Pool A happenings with two teams entering the last match with 2-0 records with the winner’s guaranteed a ninth-place while the loser will compete in the first-round of single-elimination play. May-Treanor and Walsh have played in the previous three Henkel Grand Chelem gold medal matches with wins in 2005 (Juliana/Larissa) and 2007 (Jia Tian/Jie Wang of China). Juliana and Larissa defeated the Americans for the 2006 gold medal.
The men’s Henkel Grand Chelem Main Draw starts Thursday as the semi-finals for both genders will be played Saturday to set the schedule for all four medal matches to be played Sunday. The final two teams in each gender will be competing for a share of the $43,500 first-place prizes.
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