Itapema, Brazil, May 16, 2018 – The first day of the $300,000 Itapema Open was one of double joy for Brazilian Ramon Ferreira. Playing at home in the four-star event of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, the defender celebrated both his 26th birthday and qualification to the main draw on Wednesday.
Ramon and his partner Fernando Magalhaes were one of eight men’s teams to succeed in the qualification tournament that opened the competition at the Meia Praia. In the only match they played, the Brazilians triumphed over Switzerland’s Simon Hagenbuch and Quentin Metral in three sets 2-1 (21-19, 13-21, 15-13).
“To be able to celebrate your birthday and advance to the main draw in the same day is amazing,” Ramon said. “Fernando and I deserved it. I’m thrilled to be here and to win such an important match on my birthday. The tournament will be tough as there are several teams we don’t know well, but the atmosphere is fantastic and we want more.”
It’s just the second time Ramon will compete in the main draw of a FIVB World Tour event with the first one dating back to 2015, when him and Lipe Rodrigues finished 19th in Rio de Janeiro. For his partner, Fernando, it will be the first time among the elite.
Also advancing in the men’s qualifier were Norway’s Mathias Bernsten/Hendrik Mol, Uruguay’s Marco Cairus/Mauricio Vyeto, Lithuania’s Lukas Kazdailis/Arnas Rumsevicius, Austria’s Simon Fruhbauer/Jorg Wutzl and Germany’s Phillipp Bergmann/Yannick Harms, Lorenz Schumann/Nils Ehlers and Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler.
In the women’s tournament, Switzerland’s Nicole Eiholzer, 22, and Elena Steinemann, 23, surprised Brazilian veterans Maria Clara Salgado, 35, and Elize Maia Secomandi, 23. The Europeans, who combine for just 35 World Tour events against 188 for the Brazilians, handled the fans' pressure and dominated the match to win it in straight sets 2-0 (21-17, 21-18).
It will be the third straight main draw appearance for the two, who started playing together in February, following a fifth-place finish in Mersin, where they also defeated Maria Clara and Elize Maia, and a 17th place in Lucerne last week.
Elena Steinemann spikes in the match against the Brazilians
“We came to this match knowing that we needed to work hard and play our game,” Eiholzer commented. “We had to be calm, be careful with our sets and use all of our power. We enjoyed playing here and things were just flowing for us. In the main draw, we’ll try to bring out best game and all our passion and hopefully things go our way again.”
In the first match of the qualifier, the Swiss overcame Romaine's Beata Vaida and Adriana-Maria Matei also in two sets 2-0 (21-16, 21-18).
They were only one of the two Swiss teams to advance in Itapema’s qualifier. The other was the one of Laura Calluori and Dunja Gerson, who prevailed on a three-set battle 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-8) against the Japanese Azusa Futami and Akiko Hasegawa.
The other qualified teams were the Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer/Madelein Meppelink, Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova/Andrea Strbova, Brazil’s Lili Maestrini/Josi Alves, Argentina’s Ana Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra and USA’s Emily Day/Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman.
The eight teams that advanced in each gender will join 24 prequalified
tandems in Thursday’s main draw. The 32 duos will compete in a modified pool play system where the top three tandems in each pool advance to the elimination stage.
The semifinals are scheduled to happen on Saturday night while the gold and bronze medal matches will take place on Sunday morning in Itapema.