Satun, Thailand, April 10, 2018 – The FIVB World Tour SMM Pak Bara Beach Satun has reached its climax when teams went all out on Tuesday, as Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Iran, the USA and Kazakhstan progressed through to the semi-finals of the one-star, double-gender competition.
Rain showers briefly marred the afternoon quarter-finals on Tuesday, but failed to dampen enthusiasm of a huge crowd of home spectators packing the grandstands on the Centre Court.
After thrilling quarter-final encounters, Thailand and Indonesia had two teams in the semi-finals, one team apiece in each gender. Kazakhstan and the USA joined the fray in the women’s event, while Iran and Australia advanced to the men’s semi-finals.
On Tuesday, Juliana Dhita/Utami Putu from Indonesia, champions at the last year’s South East Asian Championships in Singapore and silver medallists at the Grand Front Osaka Open, have yet lost a single set to their respective rivals en route to the women’s semi-finals.
Against the much taller Paula Soria Gutierrez/Maria Belen Carro Marquez de Acuna, the Indonesians proved well size and height do not matter as Dhita/Puta sent the Spaniards packing 21-18 21-12 in the Tuesday’s quarter-finals.
“We did our best against the Spanish duo. We struggled in the first set, but just tried to come up with consistency and confidence and we then beat them. I hope that we can continue our best performance in the semi-finals,” Dhita said.
Thailand’s Rumpaipruet Numwong/Khanittha Hongpak also secured their semi-final berth at the Pak Bara Beach, their second time in the World Tour. The Thai tandem last year cruised their ways into the semi-finals of the one-star World Tour in Ulsan, Korea, but returned with the fourth-place finish following a letdown to New Zealand there.
In the Tuesday’s quarter-finals, Rumpaipruet/Khanittha powered past Japan’s Sayaka Mizoe/Suzuka Hashimoto 21-16 21-19, helping gain a sweet revenge for team-mates Varapatsorn Radarong/Thanarattha Udomchavee, who suffered a disappointing 0-2 loss to the Japanese duo in the pool plays.
“I don’t pay much attention to the rivals we played, I just concentrated on the game I’ve been playing. I controlled myself not to make unforced mistakes. We tried to read the rivals’ game plan and at the same time, avoid mistakes. The win has boosted my self-confidence and our chance in the semi-finals,” Rumpaipruet said after the match.
In the Wednesday morning’s semi-finals, Dhita/Puto will go up against Americans Caitlin Leddux/Emily Stockman, who eliminated Japanese Yukako Suzuki/Kaho Sakauchi 21-6 21-16 in the quarter-finals, while Rumpaipruet/Khanittha will be pitted against Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, to whom they lost 0-2 in the pool preliminaries. The 2014 Asian Beach Games winners from Kazakhstan thrashed Americans Irene Pollock/Amanda Dowdy 21-18 21-17 on Tuesday for a place in the semi-finals.
However, the host nation still had another victory to celebrate on Tuesday when Nuttanon Inkiew/Sedtawat Padsawud needed no miracle in stunning Iranians Arash Vakili/Bahman Salemiinjeboroun. The Thai duo lost the first set 15-21, but recovered to win the second set 21-14. In the deciding set, the Iranian pairing took a commanding 14-11 lead, needing only one more point to win the set and the match. However, the home team just gave it all-out to attack powerfully and block effectively. Their determination paid its dividends when the Thais clinched the set 16-14 for the comeback 2-1 win.
“We had the problem of sideouts and the Iranians came up with great serves we could not receive properly. Fortunately, Sedtawat blocked well and we started to gain some crucial points on the home stretch. We gained confidence after we could catch up with the rivals,” Nuttanon said.
“I’m very happy that we eventually won this match. It’s our first time in our career to advance to the semi-finals of the World Tour. I think we have been improving drastically and we have to continue this development in future tournaments. We will try our best in the Wednesday’s semi-finals,” added Sedtawat.
In the Wednesday’s semi-finals, Nuttanon/Sedtawat will challenge Aussies Zachary Schubert/Tim Dickson, the team they lost 0-2 in the pool plays.
The other semi-final encounter on Wednesday sees Indonesians Candra Ade Rachamawan/Mohammad Ashfiya take on Iranians Rahman Raoufi/Abolhamed Mirzaali.
Candra/Ashfiya, who took silver at the AVC Beach Tour Satun Pak Bara Masters here last year, struggled to beat Japanese Yuya Ageba/Katsuhiro Shiratori 27-25 21-16 in the quarter-finals, while Raoufi/Mirzaali beat formidable Thais Surin Jongklang/Adisorn Kaolumtarn 21-15 25-27 15-11.
The semi-finals will kick off at 8am local time, followed by the third-place playoffs from 1pm and the final showdowns in the men’s and women’s events at 3pm and 4pm respectively.
For results, match schedule and photos, please click http://worldtour.2018.fivb.com/en/567/schedule#/d20180410
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