Songkhla, Thailand, April 12. 2016 – Australians Isaac Kapa/Chris McHugh, fresh from winning the Pak Bara Open in Satun a couple days ago, are expected to shine again as they have been awarded the men’s top seeds as the “SMM” AVC Beach Tour Est Cola 17th Samila Open will kick off at the Samila Beach in Songkhla on April 14.
A total of 27 men’s teams from 15 countries comprising Australia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Oman, the Philippines, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Iran, China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Qatar have been divided into eight pools from Pool A to Pool H, with Pool A-Pool E featuring three teams apiece and Pool F-Pool H having four teams each to contest the pool round-robin preliminaries. Only top two teams from each pool will advance to the next round.
The women’s event features 19 teams from 10 nations including Australia, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and hosts Thailand. All participating teams have been split into four pools from PoolA to Pool D. Four teams have been drawn in Pool A, with Pool B, Pool C and Pool D fielding five teams apiece.
Powerful Aussies Kapa.McHugh, who will start the three-day competition in Songkhla as hot-favourites for the title as they performed brilliantly to win two titles in a row consisting of the Asian Championships from March 25 to 28 on home soil and the Asian Tour in Satun, Thailand between April 9 and 11. The Asian crown achieved in front of their supporters at Manly Beach in Sydney was the Kapa/McHugh’s third in history as they have already won it in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Top seeds Kapa/McHugh, who started their partnership at the end of 2012 to win their first Asian crown in China, have been drawn in Pool A with Maldives 1 and Sri Lanka 1.
“We have Maldives and Sri Lanka in our pool. We have never played them before. Sri Lanka seem to be a very good team, so it is going to be interesting. However, it must be a relaxed match full of excitement and fun for us,” said Kapa.
Kazakh second seeds Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, who captured gold medals at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea and silver medals at the recent Pak Bara Open in Satun, are in Pool B with Thailand 2’s Addison Khaolumtarn/Nuttanon Inkiew and Hong Kong.
New Zealand 1’s Samuel O’Dea/Michael Watson are third seeds to face Oman 2 and the Philippines in Pool C, while Australia 2’s Joshua Court/Damien Schumann, New Zealand 2’s Tom Hartles/Ben O’Dea and Iran 1 are in Pool D.
Chinese Li Jian/Li Zhuoxin, Oman 1 and Maldives 2 are in Pool E, with Pool F featuring Japan 1, Indonesia 1, Vietnam 2 and Thailand 3. Kazakhstan 2, Qatar, Indonesia 2 and Sri Lanka 2 have been drawn in Pool G and Thailand 1’s Prathip Sukto/Banlue Nakprakhong, Japan 2, Vietnam 1 and Iran 2 are in Pool H.
In the women’s competition, Thailand 1’s Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, silver medallists at both the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand the same year, have been drawn in Pool A with Australia 2’s Sarah Battaglene/Becchara Palmer, Japan 1’s Akiko Hasegawa/Ayumi Usano and Vietnam 2.
Kazakhstan 1’s Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Beach Games and silver medallists at the Pak Bara Open in Satun on Monday, are in Pool B with Hong Kong 2, Indonesia 2, Thailand 3 and Singapore 1.
Australia 1’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird, the current world U23 champions, silver medallists at the last month’s Asian Championships at home and fresh from winning the Pak Bara Open in Satun on Monday, are in Pool C with Thailand 2, New Zealand, Vietnam 1 and Sri Lanka 2, with Pool D featuring Indonesia 1, Kazakhstan 2, Japan 2, Sri Lanka 1 and Singapore 2.
The team briefing and draws of lots ceremony took place on Tuesday, with Songkhla Deputy Governor Mr Anuchit Trakulmuthuta presiding. AVC Vice President and Secretary-General Mr Shanrit Wongprasert and Referee Delegate Mr Srinivasan Jayaraman jointly conducted the draws. All participating teams joined the meeting.
“I would like to welcome all participants to Songkhla during the Songkran Festival. I hope all of you will have a nice stay with us and have fun in the water splashing ceremony. If there is anything we can help, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We are very happy to serve all of you. Finally, I wish all of you a success in this tournament,” Anuchit said in his speech to all participating teams.
As the Songkran Festival falls on Wednesday, April 13, all participating teams will join the fun-packed water-splashing festival in Songkhla. The main draw will be held at the Samila Beach in Songkhla from April 14 to 16.