Songkhla, Thailand, April 13, 2024 – Higher-seeded teams unlocked their hidden potentials to get their campaigns off to victorious starts on a searing Day 1 of the AVC Beach Tour 23rd Samila Open at the picturesque Samila Beach in this resort city on Saturday. 

Despite the energy-sapping heat at the competition venue with maximum temperature ranging from 35 to 39 degrees Celsius on Saturday, strong teams claimed comfortable wins in their pool matches, with Thailand’s top seeds Pithak Tipjan/Poravid Taovato demolishing Japanese Kai Kurokawa/Ryota Sato 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) in the men’s event and Australia’s top seeds Stefanie Fejes/Jana Milutinovic, fresh from winning the last week’s AVC Beach Tour Nuvali Open without dropping a set, mercilessly crushing Leong Onieng/Law Wengsam of Macao China 2-0 (21-11, 21-13) in the women’s competition.

Teen sensation Fejes, 19, and Milutinovic, 22, proved one of the strongest contenders for the women’s title to be reckoned with at this year’s Samila Open as the Aussies have already claimed seven wins out of eight tournaments they participated including the back-to-back Beach Pro Tour Futures Coolangatta and BPT Futures Mollymook.

Following their convincing 2-0 win in Pool A on Saturday, the Australian duo will next take on Qataris Damla Yagmur/Maha Al-Kuwari, who have to play their first match on Sunday morning against Leong/Law. Early last month, Damla partnered Rehanna Al Tobaishi as the Qatar’s first women’s pair to compete at a major international beach volleyball event, but suffered early exit following their loss in the qualification, preliminary phase of the 2024 Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 – Doha, Qatar.

In Pool B, Australia’s second seeds Jasmine Fleming/Georgia Johnson also made their mark to cruise past Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Ukolova/Mariya Peressetskaya 2-0 (21-19, 21-16).

Japan’s third seeds Asami Shiba/Saki Maruyama struggled hard to beat Thailand’s Rumpaipruet Numwong/Veeradakittikarn Wirakornkhayatimat in hard-fought three-set thriller 21-17, 27-29, 15-12 in exhausting 67 minutes in Pool C.

New Zealand’s fourth seeds Alice Zeimann/Shaunna Polley, the 2022 Asian champions and consecutive two-time BPT Futures Mt Maunganui winners, survived a scare from Ren Matsumoto/Non Matsumoto to edge past the Japanese duo 2-1 (21-17, 24-26, 15-7) in Pool D, while Vanuatu’s fifth seeds Linline Matauatu/Majabelle Lawac, winners at the recent Queensland Beach Volleyball Tour Finals in Brisbane, Australia, made a strong start with 2-0 (21-14, 21-9) demolition of Hong Kong China’s Tsang Ngokling/Wong Manching in Pool E.

In Pool F, Australian six seeds Tara Phillips/Elizabeth Alchin had a daunting match against To Wingtung/To Wingman to beat the Hong Kong China’s pairing in three-setter 21-15, 14-21, 15-10, while Vanuatu’s seventh seeds Sherysyn Toko/Loti Joe had a disappointing start, succumbing to 0-2 (11-21, 19-21) loss to Indonesian 10th seeds Desi Ratnasari/Nur Sari Atika in their first Pool G match.

Local hopefuls and eight seeds Patcharaporn Seehawong/Samitta Simarongnam did not let the cheering Thai supporters in the Center Court down to topple Kazakhstan’s ninth seeds Laura Kabulbekova/Nadezhda Ivanchenko 2-0 (21-9, 21-12) in Pool H to next take on Indonesians Bernadetta Shella Herdanti/Febbry Uarri on Sunday.

In the men’s event, top teams managed to hold on to their experience and expertise advantage to claim victories against their  respective rivals.

Thailand’s top seeds Pithak Tipjan/Poravid Taovato, who took silver at the last week’s AVC Beach Tour Nuvali Open in Philippines, handed 17th seeds Kai Kurokawa/Ryota Sato the second loss in Pool A after an exceptional 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win against the Japanese pair. On Sunday, Pithak/Poravid will  take on Indonesians Akbar Bintang/Efendi Sofyan, who beat Kai/Sato 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in the very first match of the tournament on Saturday.

In Pool B, defending champions and China’s second seeds Ha Likejiang/Wu Jiaxin, who had already claimed three BPT Futures gold medals last year including the Futures Mt. Maunganui in New Zealand and the Futures Coolangatta in Australia, defeated Indonesians Yosi Firnanda/Danangsyah Pribadi 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) to go up against Kazakhstan’s Nurdos Aldash/Gurin Kirill, who went down 0-2 (17-21, 12-21) to the Indonesians on Saturday morning. 

Australia’s third seeds and 2024 BPT Futures Mollymook gold medallists Mark Nicolaidis/Izac Carracher beat Hong Kong China’s Wong Puilam/Lau Cheukyin 2-0 (21-17, 22-20) for their first win in Pool C here in the Samila Open. The Aussies will next go up against Japanese Dylan Hiroki Kurokawa/Kosuke Fukushima, who earlier battled hard to beat Wong/Lau 2-1 (22-20, 25-27, 15-9) on Saturday morning.

In Pool D, Qatar’s fourth seeds Ihab Zaki Mohammed/Ahmed Tijan outclassed Maldives’ Ahmed Mohamed/Mohamed Ali 2-0 (21-14, 21-8), while the other match in this Pool saw Iran’s 13th seeds Abbas Pourasgari/Alireza Aghajanighasab, who captured the last week’s Nuvali Open gold in Philippines, showcase  their talents to brush off Indians Ravi Robin/Sonu Barath 2-0 (21-12, 21-7).

Fifth seeds Paul Burnett/Jack Pearse from Australia, who won their first Beach Pro Tour Futures event together last November in Geelong apart from claiming silver at the 2024 BPT season-opener in Mollymook and BPT Futures Coolangatta last month, captured two wins in a row on Saturday.

The Aussies first outplayed Sri Lankans Dileepa Senarathna/Dilshan Silva Malith 2-0 (21-9, 21-14) on Saturday morning, but had a tough match against Abolhassan Khakzadeh/Abolhamed Mirzaali in the afternoon to beat the Iranians in thrilling tie-breaker 21-12, 10-21, 15-12. On Sunday, Burnett/Pearse will challenge Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Yakovlev/Sergey Bogatu, bronze medallists at the last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games.

New Zealand’s sixth seeds Thomas Reid/John MaManaway proved too strong for Nonphadon Sukphuwong/Chatchawan Janchuen to trounce the Thai duo 2-0 (21-11, 21-11) in Pool F, while 11th seeds Takumi Takahashi/Jumpei Ikeda from Japan outperformed Maldives’ Sajid Ismail/Adam Naseem 2-0 (21-14, 21-16).

Thailand’s seventh seeds Surin Jongklang/Dunwinit Kaewsai defeated Sri Lankans Sandun Madusank Fernando/Anjana Sandeepana D.M. 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) in Pool G and maintained their superb from to later overwhelm Malaysians Low Jengyih/Teh Youhao in a totally one-sided battle 21-2, 21-9 in just 24 minutes for two wins on the trot in Pool G.

Chinese Li Zhuoxin/Liu Chuanyong did likewise with two consecutive wins in Pool G. Li/Liu spent 30 minutes in beating Malaysians Low/Teh in a totally one-sided battle 21-8, 21-8 in their first match, but had a difficult encounter against Sandun/Anjana to beat the Sri Lankans 2-1 (21-15, 17-21, 15-10).

In Pool H, Australian eight seeds Ben Hood/D’ Artagnan Potts had mixed fortunes on Saturday, crushing Qataris Adem Saber Lajili/Nour Mondher Othmen 2-0 (21-8, 21-8) in 26 minutes in their morning match, but could not regain their composure in the afternoon encounter against Thailand’s Kittituch Khomkham/Phichakon Narathon to go down in exciting three-setter 16-21, 21-19, 12-15.

However, Kittituch/Phichakon had already lost their first match at the hands of Bradley Fuller/Ben O’Dea 0-2 (12-21, 7-21). The Kiwis will next challenge Hood/Potts in the all-Oceanians affair on Sunday, with Kittituch/Phichakon taking on Qataris Adem/Nour.

The pool plays continue on Sunday in both men’s and women’s event, with the first match starting at 8am Bangkok time. The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held on Monday, with the semifinals, finals as well as the awards presentation and closing ceremony taking place the following day.












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