2018-07-10 00:55:00 CEST
A total of 12 Olympic veterans will compete for the last main draw spots in Switzerland
Following four country-quota matches involving teams from Brazil and the United States, the 2018 Swatch Major Gstaad advances this Tuesday with the qualification tournament for men and women, in which eight beach volleyball teams from each gender will book their places in to the main draw of the event in the Swiss Alps.
A total of 58 teams (31 men’s and 27 women’s) from 29 countries will hit the sand in the qualifier looking for a spot among the best of the world. International experience will be on a high as 12 players have already competed in the Olympic Games.
The men’s tournament will feature eight Olympians in Poland’s Mariusz Prudel, Canada’s Ben Saxton, Chile’s Marco and Esteban Grimalt, Qatar’s Cherif Younousse, Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros and Spain’s Raul Mesa.
Prudel, who finished fifth at London 2012 and 17th at Rio 2016 with former partner Grzegorz Fijalek, now plays with Jakub Szalankiewicz, with whom he won the World Tour three-star event in Kish Island. As the top-seeded team of the qualifier, they have a bye for the next round and will play either countrymen Kacper Kujawiak/Maciej Rudol or Germany’s Phillipp Bergmann/Yannick Harms in the second round.
Mexicans Virgen and Ontiveros, the ninth-placed team at the Rio Games, will debut against Italy’s Andrea Abbiati/Tiziano Andreatta. If they win, their next opponents will be France’s Youssef Krou/Quincy Aye or Finland’s Jyrki Nurminen/Santeri Siren.
Hosts Switzerland will have one male team competing in the qualification tournament in Raphael Licka and Simon Hagenbuch. The two, who will be playing together for the first time in Gstaad, will play Canada’s Saxton and Grant O’Gorman on the Center Court. Their possible second round opponents are Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu/Volkan Gögtepe or Norway’s Mathias Bernstein/Hendrick Mol.
Among the women, the four players with Olympic experience are Poland’s Kinga Kolosinska, Spain’s Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo and Argentina’s Ana Gallay.
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The Spaniards, who were ninth both in London and Rio and resumed their partnership in the Fort Lauderdale Major after Liliana gave birth to her first son, are the third-seeded in the qualifier and will play just in the second round, against the winner of the match between Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska/Aleksandra Wachowicz and Switzerland’s Nicole Eiholzer/Elena Steinemann.
The other Swiss team playing for a main draw berth, Kim Huber/Tatjana Greber, will face Argentina’s Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra in the first round. Their potential next opponents are Japan’s Sayaka Mizoe/Suzuka Hashimoto or Norway’s Emilie Olimstad/Oda Johanne Ulveseth.