Main draw starts in Itapema with extensive day


American star Kerri Walsh-Jennings will be involved in one of the most appealing matches of Thursday's schedule

Itapema, Brazil, May 17, 2018 – After 19 qualification matches played on Wednesday, the $300,000 Itapema Open enters the main draw stage on Thursday, with 48 games set to take place at the Meia Praia Beach. It will be a busy day in the fourth four-star tournament of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2017/2018 season.

The second day of the event will see half of the 64 teams (32 in each gender) competing in the Brazilian tournament playing twice in the first stage of the modified pool play system. Eight tandems in each gender will end the day on top of their pools with two victories and a spot guaranteed in the Round of 16.

Pool play resumes on Friday, with the matches reuniting the losers of the first games happening before the Elimination Round. The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Saturday and the medal matches are scheduled for Sunday morning.

The first matches of the main draw will feature a handful of interesting duels, such as the one of Brazil’s top-seeded team Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Berti and Switzerland’s Elena Steinemann/Nicole Eiholzer on Pool A. 

The South Americans have won both the Fort Lauderdale Major and the Huntington Beach Open events in 2018 while the Europeans secured their third straight main draw appearance following a sound victory over Brazilian veterans Maria Clara Salgado and Elize Maia Secomandi in the qualification tournament.

Pool C is one of the toughest ones, with two American teams, Kerri Walsh-Jennings/Nicole Branagh and Brittany Hochevar/Kelly Claes, which will meet in the opening match, besides of third-seeded Julia Sude/Chantal Laboureur of Germany and the up-and-coming Swiss duo of Dunja Gerson and Laura Calluori.

“There are several new American teams out there and we haven’t played them yet, I’m looking forward to it,” the three-time Olympic champion Walsh-Jennings, who is playing just her second tournament in the year, said.

In the men’s tournament, Brazilian world champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola are the top-seeded team and they will debut on Pool A against Austrians Simon Fruhbauer and Jorg Wutzl, who were responsible for one of the most shocking results of the qualifier as they eliminated American veterans Reid Priddy and Jeremy Casebeer.

Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who have won three World Tour gold medals this year already, will measure up with Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe. The team teams have met twice already, once in Brazil, in 2016, and the Dutch have prevailed with straight-sets victories in both occasions.