Paris, France, June 21, 2007 - On a day when Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca surpassed the US$1-million mark in international Beach Volleyball earnings, the Henkel Grand Chelem women’s event is down to the “Sweet 16” in the first of five “major” events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar.
The top-seeded Brazilians became the fourth FIVB tandem to earn more than $1-million, including three on the women’s side, after finishing pool play here Thursday morning with a 21-18, 17-21 and 15-12 victory over 16th-seeded Lu Wang and Man Zuo of China. For 43 SWATCH events since the start of the 2004 season, Juliana and Larissa have shared $1,000,950 in FIVB winnings with 15 gold medals.
Brazilian rivals Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede ($2146,765 currently) became the first million-dollar SWATCH team in 2000 followed by the tandems of Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos ($1,288,230) of Brazil and Americans Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh ($1,108,540) last season.
Despite the Thursday morning win, Juliana and Larissa dropped to the second-seeded tandem in the 24-team elimination bracket where the Brazilians will play the 21st-seeded Schwaigers (Doris and Stefanie). The Austrian sisters ousted 27th-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza of Cuba 21-13 and 22-20 to advance to the “Sweet 16” Friday on the Champs de Mars sand courts behind the Eiffel Tower.
While Adriana and Shelda failed to qualify for the Henkel Grand Chelem Main Draw after being eliminated in the Brazilian country quota playoffs Monday by the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara), May-Treanor and Walsh assumed the top spot in the elimination bracket by edging Juliana and Larissa due to point ratios (1.232 to 1.191).
May-Treanor and Walsh, who have split gold medal matches with Juliana and Larissa in the first two Henkel Grand Chelem events, play 25th-seeded Merel Mooren and Rebekka Kadijk of the Netherlands in their first match Friday. The Dutch advanced to the “Sweet 16” with a 21-16 and 22-20 win over 11th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller of Germany.
Other “Sweet 16” countries in the top half of the bracket with May-Treanor/Walsh and Mooren/Kadijk are two tandems from Germany along with pairs from Australia, Austria, Greece and the United States. Seventh-seeded Natalie Cook/Tamsin Barnett of Australia plays 12th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich of Germany while 19th-seeded Antje Roder/Helke Claasen of Germany face 26th-seeded Rachel Wacholder/Tyra Turner of the United States and 18th-seeded Vasso Karadassiou/Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece confronts 29th-seeded Sara Montagnolli/Sabine Swoboda of Austria.
Joining Juliana/Larissa and the Schwaigers in the bottom half of the elimination bracket are three teams from China along two other pairs from South America and eighth-seeded Nicole Branagh/Elaine Youngs of the United States, who play the 14th-seeded Salgado sisters. Third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China face fifth-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly of Brazil while the other two Chinese pairs square off as sixth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang confront Wang and Zuo.
The Henkel Grand Chelem, which also featured men’s pool play matches Thursday, runs through Sunday when the winning teams shared 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