Espinho, Portugal, July 5, 2018 – A Portuguese women’s pair managed to score the first victory for their home country on Thursday at the Espinho four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Gabriela Coelho and Anessa Paquete started off their main draw campaign with a win and advanced to Friday’s elimination rounds.
With pool play completed in the women’s competition, the eight teams with two wins each qualified directly for the second round of single elimination - the 16 pairs with one victory each made the cut for the first knockout round, and the remaining eight were eliminated. Eight men’s duos went through Thursday’s qualifications successfully to progress to the main draw.
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In a really tough Pool H battle on centre court, Coelho and Paquete came back from a solid deficit to narrowly win the first set against Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee. The Thai team won the second set to draw level, but with great support from the stands, the Portuguese pair persevered through the dramatic tie-breaker for a 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 16-14) victory. In the winners’ leg, Coelho and Paquete, who are from Espinho, put on quite a fight against Anna Behlen and Sarah Schneider as well, but the Germans proved far too strong for the home team and won 2-0 (24-22, 21-17) to top the pool.
“Our morning game was very emotional. The audience stayed with us and this helped us a lot,” Coelho said. “The first set of the second match was very hard. We continued trying in the second set. We lost, but tomorrow is another game and we will play harder, with more strength.”
In an all-American winners’ clash in Pool F, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh mastered a 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-11) victory over sixth-seeded Sara Hughes and Summer Ross. The only other case when the highest seeded team in the pool did not manage to progress directly to the second round was prompted by the spectacular 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 18-16) win of young Latvians Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina over second-seeded Barbara Seixas De Freitas and Fernanda Alves of Brazil in the winners’ match of Pool B.
Two Canadian pairs, top-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan and last week’s winners at Warsaw Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carolina Solberg Salgado and Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho were the other four pool winners.
On the men’s side, it was qualification day at Espinho. After a total of 19 games played in two qualification rounds, eight pairs from seven different countries emerged with tickets to the main draw to complete the 32-team line-up.
In what was the longest running and most interesting match of the day, Austria’s Robin Seidl and Christoph Dressler claimed a 2-1 (21-17, 22-24, 15-5) victory over France’s Youssef Krou and Quincy Aye to move from the qualifications to the main draw at a World Tour event for the first time this season. Earlier on Thursday, the Austrians posted a 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) win over Australia’s Tim Dickson and Marcus Ferguson.
“In the first match we played against Australia, a young team – we didn’t know them. It is not easy when you don’t know the opponents, but we played really solid and easily won 2-0,” Seidl commented. “In the second round we played against the French team, to whom we lost at Doha in three sets, and now we wanted to take revenge. But we took the first set and gave the second away, so we thought, ‘not again!’ And then we fought and won the third set really clear. Now everything is possible. We had some really good training sessions against some really good teams. We know we can beat them, but until now we didn’t have a chance, because we couldn’t reach the main draw. Now we want to show that we can play with the big teams out there.”
“Maybe I was a little bit quiet on the field, but inside I was really cooking! I had so many emotions and today I poured them all out in the right way – into the ball and into the field, so it was just the greatest fun to play today,” Dressler added.
Germany was the one country, which qualified two teams into the main draw - Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler, seeded first in the qualification bracket, and Alexander Walkenhorst and Sven Winter. Also successful on the Espinho sand on Thursday were Brazil’s Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Gustavo Albrecht Carvalhaes, Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta, Slovenia’s Nejc Zemljak and Jan Pokersnik, Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe and USA’s Miles Evans and William Kolinske.