Udon Thani, Thailand, February 13, 2020 – Australians ruled the roost in the men’s event, as China and Japan made their marks with a clean sweep in the women’s competition on the opening day of the 2020 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships at Wessuwan Sports Stadium, Udon Thani Municipality here on Thursday.

Australia fielded three teams in the men’s event and all of them captured consecutive two wins apiece on the action-packed Day 1, with fourth seeds Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann, gold medallists at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, spending 29 minutes in brushing off Chinese Taipei’s Chen You-Ting/Zhang Feng-Ming 21-15 21-8 in Pool D before repeating the feat in their second encounter against Iranians Javad Firouzpourbandpei/Alireza Aghajanighasab 21-15 21-15.

Team-mates Zachary Schubert/Maximilian Guehrer did likewise in Pool F as the 6th-seeds powered past Hong Kong China’s Wong Pui Lam/Chan Wai Kit 21-16 21-10 to later stun hosts Thailand’s Dunwinit Kaewsai/Prathip Sukto 21-16 21-12. The 8th-seeds Cole Durant/Paul Burnett also had a good run in Pool H with two wins in succession. After a hard-fought 21-17 21-17 win over Malaysia’s Muhammad Zokri Muhammad Aizzat/Saifuddin Bin Raja Hussin Raja Nazmi, the Australian duo continued their superb form to beat Hong Kong China’s Yeung Pok Man/Chui Kam Lung 21-14 21-11 in 29 minutes.

When it comes to the main draw, nothing is easy and predictable and China enjoyed mixed fortunes on the very first day of the main draw. Second seeds Gao Peng/Li Yang, silver medallists at the previous Asian meet on home soil at Maoming and champions at the last year’s Samila Open Asian Beach Tour in Thailand, suffered a surprising 27-29 16-21 defeat to Kazakhstan veterans Dmitriy Yakovlev/Sergey Bogatu in Pool B and are due to next take on Japan’s Yu Koshikawa/Ikeda Jumpei, who also succumbed to straight-set loss to the Kazakh duo in their first match.

Compatriots Yan Tingyang/Li Jie also got this topflight competition off to a difficult start following a 21-15 18-21 13-15 loss in their first match against Singapore’s Shen Fan yang Mark/Tay Kingsley, who went down to top seeds Surin Jongklang/Banlue Nakprakhong of Thailand 21-17 21-17 in their second match in Pool A.

Third seeds Wu Jiaxin/Ha Likejiang saved the pride for China as they made it two in a row with wins over Thailand’s Netitorn Muneekul/Wachirawit Muadpha and Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.

Japan’s Takahashi Takumi/Hasegawa Yoshiumi and Yusuke Ishijima/Katsuhiro Shiratori made solid starts with two wins in a row on Thursday, but Yu Koshikawa/Ikeda Jumpei lost their touch to go down to Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Yakovlev/Sergey Bogatu.

Two teams of hosts Thailand are assured of failing to make the next round following two losses in a row on Thursday. Dunwinit Kaewsai/Prathip Sukto went down to Japanese Yusuke Ishijima/Katsuhiro Shiratori and could not recover in their second match against Zachary Schubert/Maximilian Guehrer to go down to Aussies 0-2. Netitorn Muneekul/Wachirawit Muadpha also could not make the cut for the next round, falling victims to Chinese Wu Jiaxin/Ha Likejiang and Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Chen-Wei/Wu Shin-Shian.

In the women’s competition, Varapatsorn Radarong/Khanittha Hongpak keep their high hopes of entering the next round alive as the Thai top seeds recovered from going down 19-21 21-12 9-15 to Kazakhstan’s Irina Tsimbalova/Samalikova Bakhtygul in Pool A to see off Hong Kong China’s Koo Yung Yung/Au Yeung Wai Yan 21-15 21-13.

Team-mates Tanarattha Udomchavee/Rumpaipruet Numwong had the similar mixed fortunes in Pool F as the 6th-seeds pulled off a comfortable 21-11 21-7 win against Malaysia’s Yong Jia Tian/Sin Sing Yee to later go down to Japanese Akiko Hasegawa/Azusa Futami 20-22 15-21 in exhausting 45 minutes. Another Thai pairing, Saowaros Tangkaeo/Sumintra Sow, opened up with loss to Chinese Wang Xinxin/Xue Chen before beating Malaysia’s Mae Tasha/Sin Xi Foo in thrilling three-setter 21-11 19-21 15-9. Chanthira Khanok/Yodsaphat Pakham had the sole win in their encounter against Hong Kong China’s To Wing Tung/Kong Cheuk Yee on Thursday following a hard-fought three-set thriller 21-14 20-22 16-14.

Australia’s 5th-seeds Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer and Phoebe Bell/Brittany Kendall registered their first wins on the opening day, with the former outclassing Kazakhstan’s Alina Rachenko/Ukolova Anastassiya 21-11 21-16 and the latter beating Vanuatu’s Loti Joe/Majabelle Lawac 21-6 21-15 in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, Australians Stefanie Fejes/Jasmine Fleming suffered consecutive two losses to Japanese Sayaka Mizoe/Takemi Nishibori and Chinese Taipei’s Kou Nai-Han/Liu Pi Hsin to definitely miss the cut for the next round.

China and Japan dominated the first day. Terrific Wang Fan/Xia Xinyi, winners at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and silver medallists at the previous Asian meet on home soil in Maoming, spent only 25 minutes in beating Hong Kong China’s To Wing Tung/Kong Cheuk Yee in a totally one-sided battle 21-4 21-6 in Pool B. The Chinese second seeds are due to next take on Thailand’s Chanthira Khanok/Yodsaphat Pakham on Friday.

Wang Xinxin/Xue Chen got things done effortlessly following a brilliant 21-7 21-8 triumph over Thailand’s Saowaros Tangkaeo/Sumintra Sow. The Chinese third-seeds will next play Malaysia’s Mae Tasha/Sin Xi Foo on Friday.

Japan also proved invincible on Day 1 with their three teams successfully clearing first hurdles. Fourth seeds Megumi Murakami/Miki Ishii brushed off Vanuatu’s Loti Joe/Majabelle Lawad in a completely lop-sided affair 21-7 21-7 in 30 minutes, while Akiko Hasegawa/Azusa Futami stunned Thai sixth seeds Tanarattha Udomchavee/Rumpaipruet Numwong 22-20 21-15 and 7th-seeds Sayaka Mizoe/Takemi Nishibori stormed past Australians Stefanie Fejes/Jasmine Fleming 21-13 21-11.

Earlier, the opening ceremony of the four-day competition was held at the Centre Court with Mr Somporn Chaibangyang, President of Thailand Volleyball Association, AVC Secretary-General Mr Shanrit Wongprasert, Udon Thani Governor Mr Nirat Pongsitthaworn and Udon Thani Municipal Mayor Mr Itthipol Treewatanasuwan jointly presiding.

During the ceremony, Itthipol reported on preparation tasks of the host province Udon Thani, which last year hosted the FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championships, as well as a number of participating teams, while a pretty woman in traditional E-sarn costumes carried a volleyball for Nirat to put on top of an antique Ban Chiang spiral painting earthenware pot to mark the official opening of the 2020 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in Udon Thani.

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