2018-07-10 18:25:00 CET

Europeans dominate #GstaadMajor’s qualifier

Teams from the continent secured most of the final main draw spots in the Swiss Alps

Germany's Sandra Ittlinger spikes during the qualification tournament (Photocredit: FIVB)Germany's Sandra Ittlinger spikes during the qualification tournament (Photocredit: FIVB)

European teams made good use of their home sand advantage and grabbed 10 of the 16 final spots in to the Swatch Major Gstaad after this Tuesday’s qualification tournament in the Swiss Alps. Duos from Asia (3), South America (2) and North America (1) won the other berths.

The main draw tournament starts this Wednesday with 32 tandems in each gender competing for the iconic cowbells of the second Beach Major Series event of the season.

Beach Volleyball Major Series on Twitter

Don't miss a minute of a match - watch BeachStream live from #GstaadMajor now 🏐🇨🇭 https://t.co/uK9jJeztA0 https://t.co/uCWJWteO8X

German top-seeded Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger were one of the European teams to progress from the women’s qualifier. The tandem, which finished ninth at the Fort Lauderdale Major in March, had to play just one match and defeated Russians Yulia Abalakina and Ksenia Dabizha in straight sets (21-17, 21-13) to earn its main draw berth.

“We did a great job and I’m proud of us,” Ittlinger said after the game. “It’s our first time in Gstaad and we’re very impressed about the whole scenery. We are looking forward to the main draw and we are going to give all our best.”

Also advancing in the women’s tournament are Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova/Andrea Strbova, Norway’s Emilie Olimstad/Oda Johanne Ulveseth, Spain’s Liliana Fernández/Elsa Baquerizo, Poland's Kinga Kolosinska/Katarzyna Kociolek, Japan’s Megumi Murakami/Miki Ishii and Akiko Hasegawa/Azusa Futami and USA’s Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman.

Beach Volleyball Major Series on Twitter

Welcome to the Main Draw! Olimstad/Ulveseth 🇳🇴 managed the qualification of #GstaadMajor 💯👍🏼 #GivesYouWings #SwatchIt Watch all games live at the Beach-Stream 📺 https://t.co/1Cj197DTau https://t.co/wS8R3qFrHn

In the men’s qualifier, Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoeren and Tom van Walle ended a tough stretch for them with a pair of victories and a main draw spot. The Belgians, who started the season with big aspirations, had failed to advance from the qualifiers of the last two tournaments they played at, in Ostrava and Warsaw, and had won just one of their last six World Tour matches leading to Gstaad.

They battled through in the Swiss Alps, though, and made it out of the qualifier with three-set triumphs, losing the first set in both games, beating Austria’s Christoph Dressler/Tobias Winter (17-21, 24-22, 15-12) and Chile’s Marco and Esteban Grimalt (13-21, 21-15, 15-12).

We had to dig deep today, but reeeeally happy with the 2 wins against 🇦🇹 & 🇨🇱 Tomorrow maindraw starts, but first we will support the @belgianreddevils 🇧🇪-🇫🇷 ⚽️😎🙌 #KvWbeach #Belgianbeachboys #bettertogether #GStaad #GStaadmajor @beachmajorseries #beachvolleyball #beachvolley #volleyball #volley #teambelgium #roadtotokyo

35 Likes, 4 Comments - Koekelkoren van Walle Beach (@kvw_beach) on Instagram: "We had to dig deep today, but reeeeally happy with the 2 wins against 🇦🇹 & 🇨🇱 Tomorrow maindraw..."

Brazilians Thiago Barbosa and George Wanderley, who had won two matches on Monday’s country-quota, added a couple more victories to their campaign as they prevailed over China’s Likejiang Ha/Jiaxin Wu in two sets (21-17, 21-16) and Austria’s Simon Fruhbauer/Jorg Wutzl in three (13-21, 21-18, 15-9) to advance.

“We were very nervous to start the match and had to fight a lot to thing going our way,” the 21-year-old George said. “They played really well, but we were better in the deciding moments and I think that was the difference.”

The other six male teams to advance were Italy’s Tiziano Andreatta/Andrea Abbiati and Marco Caminati/Enrico Rossi, Germany’s Phillipp Bergmann/Yannick Harms, Turkey's Murat Giginoglu/Volkan Gögtepe, Venezuela’s Carlos Rangel/Jose Gomez and Qatar's Cherif Younousse/Ahmed Tijan. 

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