Great dive by George during a country quota match at Warsaw on Tuesday
Warsaw, Poland, June 26, 2018 – The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returns to Warsaw this week for the city’s first double-gender event, a 4-star stop from June 26 through July 1. The matches will be played at the Monta Beach Volley Club on the Czerniakowski Cape peninsula, which protrudes into the Wisla River in the heart of the city. The Polish capital previously hosted two editions of the women-only Warsaw Open in 2006 and 2007.
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As many as 129 teams (68 men’s and 61 women’s pairs) from 37 different countries, with all five continental confederations represented, have signed up for the tournament, where a total of $300,000 prize money is at stake. In each gender a 32-team main draw will feature a modified pool play system with the top three teams in each four-team pool progressing into the single elimination stage. With 24 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining eight spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Wednesday, June 27.
The warm and sunny June weather in Warsaw has been interrupted by clouds and rain for the last few days, but the forecast promises better days ahead. And it is not just the forecast... “I can promise that even if the weather is not good, we will warm up the atmosphere on court so well that no one will even remember that they feel cold,” said Jagoda Gruszczynska, one of the Polish players who will enjoy the support of the home fans in Warsaw.
And the sun came out just minutes before the start of the first country quota match on Tuesday. Two Brazilian pairs engaged in a three-set battle, with George Souto Maior Wanderley and Thiago Santos Barbosa coming back from a set down to claim a 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 15-11) victory over Ricardo Alex Costa Santos and Gustavo Albrecht Carvalhaes. Pouring rain marked the start of the second country quota game, but George and Thiago were close to pulling off the same trick on Alvaro Morais Filho and Saymon Barbosa Santos. They made a couple of unforced errors, however, and in the end Alvaro Filho and Saymon advanced to the main draw with a hard-fought 2-1 (21-18, 21-23, 15-13) victory.
Saymon and Thiago in a duel above the net
The impressive line-up in the men’s preliminary seeding is headed by the team made up of reigning Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and reigning world champion Andre Loyola Stein. While each of them has a number of gold medals and podium finishes on the World Tour with different partners, their first appearance together as a pair took place at the Ostrava 4-star last week, where they finished 17th.
The Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists and reigning European champions Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo come in second in the preliminary seeding. For the well-seasoned and well-decorated Italian duo, this will be the fourth participation in a World Tour event in 2018, including winning silver in Fort Lauderdale at the beginning of March.
One more Brazilian team, Vitor Goncalves Felipe and Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior, complete the top three in the list. The first and only World Tour gold for this pair dates back to the Berlin Grand Slam in 2013. After the 2014 season they went their separate ways only to reunite for the Ostrava event last week, where they took fifth place. In between, Vitor Felipe added two gold medals to his tally, while Evandro claimed five, including the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship title.
The best Polish team, current FIVB World Ranking leaders Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, are likely to be granted the top seed in the main draw and come to Warsaw after a great tournament in Ostrava, where they reached the final and took silver. The three-time title-holders from Age Category World Championships will count on the home crowd in their quest for a 14th World Tour medal.
“We are very happy that we can play in Poland and we hope that a Polish duo will be on the podium on home soil for the first time since 2011 when Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel claimed silver at Stare Jablonki... because it's time for it,” Losiak said. “We are the leaders of the world ranking, we worked hard for it, but the ranking won't give us the desired result. We need to show our strength and good game on the court.”
The remaining 20 teams seeded directly into the main draw come from Poland (3), Canada (2), the Czech Republic (2), Latvia (2), the Netherlands (2), Russia (2), Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Norway, Spain and USA.
FIVB World Ranking leaders Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada lead the pack for the women’s competition in Warsaw. They teamed up at the end of the 2016 season and have since snatched two gold, two silver and one bronze medal on the World Tour, including a runner-up finish from the previous time the Tour came to Poland, for the Olsztyn 4-star in 2017.
Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude come in second in the women’s preliminary seeding. The German pair will be looking for their third World Tour gold or at least an overall ninth medal. So far they have earned a total of eight medals, including a Huntington Beach bronze last month.
Brazil’s Barbara Seixas De Freitas and Fernanda Alves complete the top three seeds. Since they got together for the start of the 2017 season, the two experienced Brazilians have earned three gold medals on the World Tour – Xiamen 2017, Fort Lauderdale 2018 and Huntington Beach 2018.
Another 21 pairs are seeded directly into the women’s main draw - three from USA, two each from Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland and one each from Australia, Austria, Canada and Russia.