Phuket, Thailand, November 1, 2007 - With the completion of the first-round of the Main Draw at the final event on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, there are some interesting notes as the delightful weather has attracted fans to the seaside resort village at Karon Beach.
With 14 of the 102 players competing in the US$200,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by ptt under the age of 21, two of the most experienced players on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour are competing together for the first-time in an international Beach Volleyball event.
With a combined age of 69, Olympians Ana Paula Connelly (35) and Shelda Bede (34) are competing together this week for the first-time as the eighth-seeded Brazilians opened with a 21-14 and 21-18 win over 25th-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany. The two Brazilians have competed for 39 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medals, including 31 by Shelda with long-time partner Adriana Behar.
Shelda is completing her 13th-season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour as she and Adriana captured world championships in 1999 and 2001 with a silver medal in 2003 and a third-place in 1997. Shelda and Adriana also claimed Olympic silver medals at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Ana Paula, who serves as a women’s player representative on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Council, placed fifth at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games where she and Sandra Pires were eliminated by Adriana and Shelda in the quarter-finals.
The Ana Paula/Shelda partnership was formed due to injuries to their regular partners. With Leila Barros and Shelda sidelined, Ana Paula and Adriana played in two events earlier this season in Finland and Russia. Adriana and Shelda competed together at the end of September in a Brazilian stop in Fortaleza where Ana Paula reunited with Sandra.
Teams from host Thailand split their opening matches Thursday morning. Tenth-seeded Usa Tenpaksee and Jarunee Sannok scored a 21-16 and 21-19 Thai win over 23rd-seeded Cristine "Saka" Santanna and Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins of Georgia while ninth-seeded Kamoltip Kulna and Yupa Puklongploy dropped a 19-21, 23-21 and 15-12 decision to 24th-seeded Eva Hamzaoui/Deborah Giaoui of France.
Tenpaksee and Sannok will play 26th-seeded Geeske Banck and Anja Gunther of Germany, who upset seventh-seeded Lu Wang and Man Zuo (27-25 and 21-19), in their second Phuket Thailand Open match Thursday afternoon. Kulna and Puklongploy face Holtwick and Semmler in an elimination match. Holtwick and Semmler won the European tour point’s title this season.
Five seed-break-throughs highlighted Thursday’s opening first-round schedule as the top two-seeded teams in the Phuket Thailand Open were extended to three sets Thursday. Reigning Olympic and three-time SWATCH-FIVB World champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh recovered from a first set setback to Galyna Osheyko and Svitlana Baburina to defeat the 32nd-seeded from the Ukraine 18-21, 22-20 and 15-11 in 62 minutes.
Second-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China, who won the 2007 season opening event in Shanghai this past May, overcame a 21-19 first set loss to 31st-seeded Takemi Nishibori and Miwa Asao to capture the match with 21-10 and 15-9 wins in the final two sets. The Japanese had to win two qualifying matches Wednesday to advance to the Main Draw. Tian and Wang lost the 2006 Phuket Thailand Open gold medal match to Chen Xue and Xi Zhang.
After winning two qualifying matches Wednesday to advance to the “money” rounds, 30th-seeded Mered de Vries/Sanne Keizer of the Netherlands posted Thursday’s biggest upset with a 23-21 and 21-19 win over third-seeded Xue and Zhang. The Dutch will face 14th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich as the Germans scored a 21-19 and 35-33 opening win over 19th-seeded Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Maria Tsiartsiani of Greece.
Friday’s 22-match schedule will feature the first two semi-final qualifying matches. After opening Saturday’s play with the final two rounds in the contender’s bracket of the double-elimination event, the Phuket Thailand Open semi-finals will be played Saturday afternoon. The final two teams compete Sunday afternoon for the gold medal and the $32,000 first-place prize.