Songkhla, Thailand, April 14, 2017 – The opening day of the SMM 18th Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships at the Samila Beach here was a clean sweep of strong teams, brushing off lowered-ranked rivals in their respective pools.
A total of 32 men’s teams and 28 women’s pairings from 19 countries consisting of Australia, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Oman, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Iran, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Singapore, Laos, Vanuatu, Macao and hosts Thailand are contesting the pool round-robin preliminaries with the top two teams from each pool advancing to the round of the last 16 teams.
In the men’s competition, Australian top seeds Chris McHugh/Damien Schumann, who earlier emerged as the winners at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shepparton 1-Star event and the inaugural Four Nations Cup at Sydney’s Manly Beach and the bronze medallists at the last week’s Pak Bara Master in Satun, proved too strong for inexperienced opponents to successfully clear their first two matches to next go up against Iran1’s Rahman Raoufi/Bahman Salami Injehboron in Pool A .
Schumann/McHugh, who have been playing together recently, first sent Singaporeans G.J.P Tan/Zhuo packing in a totally one-sided battle 21-10 21-10 and later pulled off a convincing 21-15 21-15 win over Oman 1’s Badar Al Subhi/Ahmed Al Housni. With two straight wins, the in-form Aussies have already secured a berth in the round of 16.
“I think we played the way we can play. We tried to play our best and it was great to get two wins. It is going to be a very tough game tomorrow against Iran. We try to keep going and try to win the tournament here. The condition here is great and the sand is like one in Australia but a little bit deeper. So, we have to move a little harder. I think it’s always great to play on the real beach sites as we can see a beautiful sunset,” said McHugh.
“TVA also did a great job again to host this event impressively and as always, I would love to come back here every year,” he added.
Qatar 1’s second seeds Julio Do Nascimento /Ahmed Tijan Janko, who finished a disappointing fourth place at the Pak Bara Master last week, came back stronger this time with two wins in a row in Pool B.
The Qataris successfully cleared their first hurdle with a comfortable straight-set victory 21-11 21-9 over Hong Kong’s Wong/Pong and later thrashed Kurasaka/Hasegawa of Japan in straight 21-14, 21-17. They will next take on New Zealand 2’s Michael Watson/Tom Hartles on Saturday.
In Pool C, Qataris Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse, fresh from winning the Pak Bara Master title, continued their dazzling form to beat Saykhammoun Lid/Phounthongsy Sinthanou of Laos 21-12, 21-9 before thrashing Hong Kong’s Lam/Kelvin in straight sets 21-12, 21-9. Jefferson/Cherif will next face Chinese Li Zhuoxin/W. Zhou to determine the Pool C winners.
Kazakhstan1’s Alexey Sidorenko/Alexandr Dyachenko, champions at the 2014 Asian games in Incheon, Korea and last year’s Samila Open here, emerged as the Pool D winners as they captured two victories in their pool. Sidorenko/ Dyachenko first beat Sri Lanka’s Anjana/Dileepa 21-15, 21-16 before outclassing Maldives’ Anil/Adnan 21-15 21-11 in their second match.
Sidorenko/Dyachenko will next take on Japan’s Takahashi/Shiratori, who beat the Maldives duo in straight sets 21-11, 21-8 .
In the other pool competitions, Kazakhs Yakovlev/Kuleshov will next take on Indonesians Gilang Ramadhan/Danangsyah Pribadi to decide the Pool E winners after they had two straight wins over Maldives and Saudi Arabia. Pool F was dominated by Indonesians Candra Rachmawan/ Mohammad Asfiya, runners-up at the Pak Bara Master last week in Satun, and Australians Durant/Schubert. Both teams registered two straight victories over Thailand 2’s Adisorn/Marudet and New Zealand’ S Kapa/Seymour.
In Pool G, China 1’s Ha Likejiang/Jian Bao advanced to the next round after claiming two consecutive wins over Sri Lanka’s Asanka/Yapa and Thailand’s Kitti/Surin.
Meanwhile, in the women’s action, local hopefuls Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, gold medallists at the last year’s Asian Beach Games in Dang, Vietnam, made a flying start following a totally one-sided 21-7, 21-10 victory over Vietnam’s Le/Tu.
The Thai top seeds Varapatsorn/Tanarattha on Saturday will go up against Japan’s Mizoe/Hashimoto, who also beat the Vietnamese duo 21-10, 21-16, to decide the Pool A winners.
“Today it was a good warm-up match for us as we would like to take this match to get used to the course condition. It is quite hot here and the wind is also quite strong. We have to spend more time in acclimatising the weather condition here. But this is the real beach volleyball competition. The tournament is more difficult than the Pak Bara Master in Satun as the sand here is deeper,” Varapatsorn commented after the match.
“We have yet to expect how far we can go in this tournament. But we will try to focus and play our best one match at a time. If we continue to show our best performance, I believe we will have a good result,” she added.
Australia 2’s Louise Bawden /Taliqua Clancy, silver medallists at the Pak Bara Master on Tuesday, also had a field day in Pool B with two comfortable wins including a 21-8 21-15 victory over Thailand 3 ’s Kijja Khantarak/Ariya Laosaengsa.
“We met them last week so we knew today would be a very tough match.They played really well. But we tried to make sure that we prepared well. We wanted to play well as a team. We gained the upper hand this time. We are really excited to play here. It is a great tournament. Songkhla is one of the best Asian tours and we will try our best here to win the tournament,” said Taliqua Clancy.
In Pool C, China 1’s Wang Fan/Yue Yuan, winners at the Pak Bara Open in Satun, proved that they remain on the right track to repeat another feat in Thailand as they beat the Japanese pair of Hasegawa/Futami in straight sets 21-19, 21-16 to next challenge Desi/Yokebed of Indonesia.
Australia 1’s Phoebe Bell/Nicole Laird dominated Pool D, thrashing Gnanasagari/Chaturika of Sri Lanka 21-16 21-11 in just 27 minutes to next play Japanese Suzuki/Ishii who defeated the Sri Lankan duo 21-10, 21-11.
The pool round-robin preliminaries continue on Saturday’s morning, while the round of 16 teams in both men’s and women’s competitions will be contested in the afternoon.
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