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Beach Volleyball - 02. June 2009.

Talita & Antonelli’s Turnaround Nets Seoul Open Gold Medal


SWATCH FIVB World Tour winners in Seoul - Brazilians Talita Antunes (left) and Maria Antonelli

Seoul, Korea,  2009 - A week after being defeated by the same team twice in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour event, Talita Antunes and Maria Antonelli turned the tables on an American team here Sunday to capture the their second international Beach Volleyball title in 2009 by winning the US$190,000 Seoul Open.

The fourth-seeded Brazilians shared the $30,000 first-place prize after scoring a 22-20 and 21-16 win in 45 minutes over top-seeded Jen Kessy and April Ross for Talita and Antonelli’s second win over the Americans after posting a 22-20, 18-21 and 15-13 victory in 62 minutes Saturday afternoon to advance to the Seoul Open semi-finals.

After placing 13th in the season opening SWATCH stop in Brasília last month, Talita and Antonelli rebounded the following week in China to capture the gold medal in Shanghai.  Last week in Japan, Talita and Antonelli lost twice to Brazilian rivals Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, including a 26-24, 19-21 and 18-16 gold medal decision in the 65-minute.

“We just played better today against the Americans and took advantage of the bright and windy conditions,” said the 26-year Talita, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the third annual Seoul Open at the Han River Jamsil Citizen Park Beach Volleyball centre court where over 3,000 fans watched the medal matches Sunday.

“We are feeling more comfortable playing with each other,” said the 25-year old Antonelli, who was winning her third SWATCH FIVB World Tour as compared to seven for Talita, who won the first five with her Beijing 2008 Olympic partner Renata Ribeiro.  “Talita had an outstanding game and her threat at the net gives me a chance to defend better behind her block.”

Kessy and Ross, who shared the $21,000 second-place prize, have now competed in SWATCH gold medal matches in their last five FIVB events with a second-place in Dubai last October followed by 2008 season-ending titles in Thailand (Phuket) and China (Sanya).

With Edmundo Sussumu Fujita, the Brazilian ambassador to Korea, and his wife in attendance, the South American country had two spots on the podium as seventh-seeded Vanilda Leao and Renata won the bronze medal match by defeating 22nd-seeded Hana Klapalova and Tereza Petrova of the Czech Republic 21-17, 20-22 and 15-11 in 49 minutes.

Leao and Renata split $15,000 for placing third for their best SWATCH FIVB World Tour placement together.  In becoming only the third women’s team from the Czech Republic to compete in a SWATCH medal match, Klapalova and Petrova posted their best finish in a FIVB ”open” event to share $11,200 for placing fourth.

Brazilians have now won the first four women’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour events in 2009 as Juliana and Larissa also defeated Kessy and Ross for the Brasília gold medal before winning in Osaka.  Winners of 23 SWATCH gold medals since 2004, the Seoul Open has not been a productive stop for Juliana and Larissa as the Brazilians have placed third, fourth and seventh in the past three Korean events.

The SWATCH FIVB World Tour now breaks for more than three weeks before resuming play at the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Championships in Norway where the Stavanger competition starts June 25.  The finals are July 4 for women and July 5 for men.  After the world championships, SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops will be held the next four weeks in Switzerland, Russia, France and Austria

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