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Volleyball - 12. September 2008.

Stage is set for main draw of English Masters beach volleyball in Blackpool

The stage is set for more top-flight beach volleyball as the main draw of the Nestea European Championships Tour English Masters gets underway at St Chad’s Headland in Blackpool today.
The final places in the main draw were determined in today’s qualification tournament. The highest ranked players on the tour went straight into the main draw and get their campaigns underway tomorrow.
It’s the first time a Nestea European Championship Tour competition has been held in the UK. The event is being hosted by VisitBlackpool and the Northwest Development Agency.
There were four places up for grabs in the women’s main draw in today’s qualification competition. They went to Emilia and Erika Nystrom (Finland), Polina Bratuhhina and Kadri Puri (Estonia), Danielle Remmers and Michelle Stiekema (Netherlands) and Sara Montagnolli and Kerstin Pichler (Austria).
Finnish sisters Emilia and Erika Nystrom dispatched Norway’s Janne Kongshavn and Kristine Wiig 21-16, 21-15 in the final women’s game of the day on the impressive show court.
Afterwards Erika said: “We didn’t feel under any pressure today, so we just went out and played. We served well and we didn’t make many mistakes.  Tomorrow will be a much more difficult, but at the moment we’re just happy to be in the main draw.”
The young Dutch pairing of Danielle Remmers and Michelle Stiekama followed up yesterday’s country quota success by beating Switzerland’s Muriel Graessli and Nadine Zumkehr 21-15, 21-19.
But there was disappointment today for some of the young British teams. Liane Herbert and Vicky Palmer went down 21-11, 21-19 to Norwegians Janne Kongshavn and Kristine Wiig in the opening contest of the day on the impressive show court, before they in turn went out to the Finnish pair.
Palmer said: “We’re quite a young team and we were playing an experienced team.
“We came back well in the second set,” she added. “We were there or thereabouts, we just couldn’t quite finish it off.
“It’s been a great experience playing here. The home crowd were awesome. I’m really impressed with the way it’s set up and run. It’s a definite step forward having tournament like this in England,” she added. “It’s amazing for us just to be around some of the top players from Europe.”
The more experienced pair of Denise Austin and Mel Coutts couldn’t repeat their success in yesterday’s country quota game.  They battled hard but couldn’t quite take the Estonians Mari-Liis Graumann and Natalja Bratuhhina to a third set, going down 21-16, 21-19.
Two further British pairings begin their campaigns in tomorrow’s main draw. Lucy Boulton & Zara Dampney  and Denise Johns & Shauna Mullin make their first appearance in the women’s main draw.
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