The 10th event on the women’s international circuit, the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation begins here Tuesday at The Hague Beach Stadium on Scheveningen beach with qualifying rounds for both men and women to determine the final eight entries for both genders for Wednesday’s opening Main Draw pool play matches.
The Transavia Grand Slam concludes with the medal matches Sunday as the final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team. In addition to Main Draw competition at The Hague Beach Stadium, men’s and women’s pool play matches will also be staged in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I am excited to be back competing on the FIVB World Tour,” said the 32-year old Larissa, who last played on the international circuit on the Finnish isle of Åland (August 28-September 2, 2012) with Juliana Felisberta. “I have been training and practicing very hard for the past three months in Fortaleza. I am eager to play again. I feel my physical conditioning is very good. I expect that Talita and I will play well together.”
A seven-time FIVB World Tour champion with Juliana, the pair also claimed the 2011 FIVB World Championship title in Rome before capturing the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Larissa and Juliana are the FIVB World Tour record holder for most gold medal finishes for a men’s or women’s team with 45 titles. The Larissa/Juliana partnership also collected 82 total FIVB World Tour medals in 108 international starts together over a nine-year period (2004-2012).
“I am really looking forward to playing our first tournament match with Larissa on Wednesday,” said the 31-year old Talita, won captured the 2013 FIVB World Tour championship with Taiana Lima as the pair combined for five gold medals last season and played in five 2014 events before splitting after last month’s event in Berlin where the Brazilians placed fifth.
“I could not pass on the opportunity to team with the world’s best women’s Beach Volleyball player,” said Talita when asked why she left playing this season with Lima to form a partnership with Larissa. “Larissa has had a phenomenal career and I feel that we will be a good combination. We are still learning from each other. We get better with every practice. It will be different this week since we are actually competing against the best players in the world, but we are confident that we will be successful.”
Larissa, who attempted to become pregnant during her time away from competitive Beach Volleyball, said she just “needed some time away from the competition. Juliana and I trained hard, played hard and had an emotional nine years together. I just needed to get away from the competition and wanted to do some different things with my life, like having a child. I tried to get pregnant twice, but it didn’t work out. So, now, I am back playing on the World Tour again and excited to be partnering with Talita. She is one of the best players in the world and I am fortunate that she was willing to play with me.”
The Brazilians, who have a Main Draw “wild card” this week, will also be competing together in the next three FIVB World Tour Grand Slam events in the United States, Austria and Poland. “We are now a team,” said Talita, who has won a total of 18 FIVB World Tour gold medals with three different partners since starting her career on the international tour in 2005. “Right now, the biggest adjustment is making sure we are compatible with each other. Larissa is an emotional person and a fierce competitor. I tend to be low key, but I can get emotional when it counts. We are working to find the best combination between us and our styles of play. We both want the same thing - to compete very hard for every point and win.”
Both Larissa and Talita have won gold medals in The Hague as the FIVB World Tour returns to The Netherlands for the fifth-time. Larissa and Juliana captured the Dutch gold medals in 2009 and 2011 at The Hague Beach Stadium. Talita topped the podium twice with a gold medal in 2010 with Maria Antonelli and last June with Lima. Talita and Antonelli, who lost the 2009 finale to Larissa and Juliana, also placed third in 2011.
Madelein Meppelink, who forms the top women’s team for The Netherlands with Marleen Van Iersel, said “it is great for the FIVB World Tour to have Larissa back competing. As a younger player, I enjoyed watching her compete. She never gives up and her style of play is inspiring. Hopefully, we have a chance to compete against them. Anytime you play against Larissa, it will be an emotional and hard-fought match.”
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