ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA, March 25, 2008 - Australia’s return to the international Beach Volleyball calendar featured men’s and women’s Country Quota and Qualification Tournament matches here Tuesday for the season-opening event on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour on Glenelg Beach at Moseley Square.
While the afternoon session featured 11 men’s and 10 women’s matches, the morning session had teams from Australia, Brazil and the United States competing in country quota playoffs to finalize the schedule for the Qualification Tournament where 35 men’s and 34 women’s were competing in the single-elimination brackets.
The first qualifying stop of the year for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the US$350,000 Adelaide Australia Open continues Wednesday with 16 qualifying matches for both men and women to help set field for the 32-team double-elimination Main Draw brackets. The “money” rounds begin Thursday and conclude Sunday when the gold medal winners will share the $28,000 first-place prizes.
Jochem De Gruijter/Gijs Ronnes of the Netherlands and Rieke Brink-Abeler/Hella Jurich of Germany, the top-seeded teams in the men’s and women’s qualifier, respectively, posted opening wins Tuesday afternoon to advance to Wednesday’s third-round where they will play teams from the United States and Japan.
While the Dutch face 17th-seeded Matt Fuerbringer and Casey Jennings of the United States for a spot in Thursday’s opening Main Draw rounds, Brink-Abeler and Jurich are challenged by 16th-seeded Hiromi Suzuki and Satoko Urata. Fuerbringer and Jennings had to win a pair of matches Tuesday, including a country quota victory and a 21-11 and 21-16 win over 16th
In addition to competing against the world’s best Beach Volleyball players for an Olympic berth, De Gruijter/Gijs Ronnes and Brink-Abeler/Jurich are battling for Summer Games berths against other tandems from their country. With the Beijing 2008 Olympics featuring 24 teams per gender, only two teams from a country can qualify for the Summer Games in the Chinese capital (August 9-22).
Emiel Boersma and Bram Ronnes, Gijs’ younger brother, currently rank 16th on the Olympic list with 1,980 points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the qualifying process in May 2007. Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil have 3,810 Olympic qualifying points to rank fourth on the Beijing list for the Netherlands while De Gruijter and Gijs Ronnes have 1,830 points for their best eight SWATCH placements.
Brink-Abeler and Jurich, which finished the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar with a fourth last November in Thailand for their best-ever international Beach Volleyball placement, trail compatriots Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (seventh on the Beijing list of 3,470 points) and Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau (10th, 2,850). Brink-Abeler and Jurich have compiled 2,820 points for their best eight finishes while a fourth German women’s team (Helke Claasen/Antje Roder) has 2,070 points.
After Australian country quota playoffs, four teams each advanced to the men’s and women’s qualifier. Australian women’s teams remaining in the Adelaide Australia Open qualifier are Katie Bartoli/Eliza Dean, Natalie Frostick/Johannah Rohkamper and Mariafe Artacho/Sarah Battaglene as Diana Brigham/Jillian McLeod were eliminate Tuesday afternoon. The lone Aussie men’s team left in the qualifier is Trent Irwin/Gregory Mann as Justin Feuerriegel/Sean Thomas, Anthony Wardrop/Shanon Zunker and Owen Boland/Ben Newton suffered qualifying setbacks Tuesday afternoon.