Phuket, Thailand, November 5, 2009 - The season’s final SWATCH FIVB World Tour event on the 2009 international Beach Volleyball calendar produced several surprising results during the first-round play here Thursday at the US$190,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by PTT on Karon Beach.
Eight of the first 16 matches in the fourth annual event featured wins by the lower seeded teams as Thursday was the third of six days of competition in the 16th and final women’s event on the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour. The 32-team double elimination Phuket Thailand Open Main Draw continues through Sunday with the semi-finals being played Saturday afternoon followed by the medal matches the next day where the winning team splits the $30,000 first-place prize.
Three of the top eighth-seeded pairs were upset in the opening round as defending Phuket Thailand Open champions Jen Kessy and April Ross opened defense of their title by defeating 32nd-seeded Julaluk Radarong and Manerat Udomchavee of Thailand 21-15 and 21-13 in 41 minutes.
Eighth-seeded Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland, who upset Kessy and Ross in the three-set SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match this past Sunday in Sanya, China, also won their opening match Thursday by scoring a 21-18 and 21-13 win in 30 minutes over Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin of Great Britain.
Kuhn and Zumkehr play Ying Huang and Xi Zhang in their second match Thursday after the 24th-seeded Chinese pair posted a break-through win by defeating ninth-seeded Jarunee Sannok and Usa Tenpaksee of Thailand 19-21, 21-16 and 15-11 in 58 minutes. Zhang won the inaugural Phuket Thailand Open in 2006 with her Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medal partner Chen Xue.
Xue and new partner Linjun Ji also posted a break-through victory as the 19th-seeded Chinese tandem scored a 21-19 and 21-17 win in 37 minutes over 14th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic. While Zhang has played all season with the 17-year old Huang, Xue played her first eight SWATCH stops with Ying Zhang before placing 13th last week in Sanya with Ji.
Top-seeded pairs being defeated in the first-round Thursday were third-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig of Germany, fifth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen of Norway and sixth-seeded Vassiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani of Greece.
Before Goller and Ludwig dropped a 21-18, 13-21 and 15-13 decision in 55 minutes to 30th-seeded qualifiers Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner of Spain, Hakedal and Torlen were defeated 21-16 and 21-11 by 28th-seeded Susan Blundell and Anna Scarlett of New Zealand. Arvaniti and Tsiartsiani were then defeated by 27th-seeded qualifiers Madelein Meppelink and Marloes Wesselink of The Netherlands 21-17 and 23-21 in 43 minutes.
The Russian teams of 22nd-seeded Maria Bratkova/Evgenia Ukolova and 23rd-seeded qualifiers Ekaterina Khomyakova/Anastasia Vasina posted break-through victories over pairs from Germany and Thailand, respectively. The other tandem with a seed-break-through win was 20th-seeded Hana Klapalova/Tereza Petrova of the Czech Republic, who defeated a team from Italy.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS