Roi Et, Thailand, March 2, 2017– Strong teams enjoyed comfortable start at the “SMM” 2nd Asian U21 “Est Cola” Beach Volleyball Championships 2017, with in-form Thailand 1’s Marudet Buntem/Jatoopon Saenyoot crushing Kazakhstan 2’s Alimkhan Kushaliyev/Andrey Belunin in a totally lop-sided battle 21-2 21-3 at the makeshift Nongyama Municipal School venue here on Thursday.
Aside from the Thai top seeds, second seeds China 1’s Liu Chuanyong/Tao ChengAn and third seeds Australia 1’s Paul Burnett/Marcus Ferguson also got the top-flight three-day, double-gender competition off to a good start with sensational wins in their round-robin pool plays on the opening day.
With only two teams battling it out in the Pool A preliminary round, Thailand 1, beating the Kazakhstan 2’s pairing, emerged as the Pool A winners.
China 1’s Liu/Tao also had a field day when they first brushed off Hong Kong 2’s Chan Kui Wai/Chan Lay Heng Dinghy 21-9 21-10 before beating Thailand 2’s Chamnan Phiset/Akkarapon Tumdee 21-15 22-20 to top Pool B, while Australia 1’a Burnet/Ferguson thrashed Oman 2’s Hood Al-Jalabooubi/Majid Al-Shibli 21-17 21-17 to later overpower Iran 2’s Ali Shahbazi/Sina Enayati 21-11 21-18. With two consecutive victories, the Aussies top Pool C as expected.
However, Kazakhstan 1’s Yegor Dmitriyev/Yerlan Yelubayev enjoyed a mixed fortune on the opening day. The Kazakh duo proved a class above Sri Lanka 2 to pull off a thrilling 21-19 21-15 win over Don Isthomu Kankanamge/Tharindu Medushanka Karunarathna in their opening clash, but could not maintain their impressive form in the second match against stronger Iran 1’s Alireza Aghajani-Ghasab/Javad Firouzpourbabdpei to go down in a hard-fought battle 28-30 15-21. The Iranian duo, who crushed the Sri Lankans 21-17 21-10 in their earlier encounter, top Pool D with two straight wins.
In the Friday morning second round, Pool A winners Marudet/Jatoopen take on Pool B runners-up Chamnan/Akkarapon in the all-Thais battle, while Pool B winners Lio/Tao go up against Pool F runners-up Wu Jinsong/Lu TianYu in the all-Chinese affair.
Pool C winners Australia 1’s Burnett/Ferguson play Pool G runners-up Hong Kong 1’s Chan Ka Ho/Yiu Ming Kam in the second round, with Pool D champions Iran 1’s Aghajani-Ghasab/Firouzpourbabdpei facing Pool E runners-up Oman 1’s Mohammed Al-Shibli/Al-Mandhar Al-Mezeini.
Meanwhile, in the women’s action, the top three seeds booked their second-round berths following their two straight wins on Thursday.
Top seeds Sirinuch Kawfong/Saranya Laesood made a clean sweep in Pool A on the opening day. The Thailand 1’s duo successfully cleared their hurdles by hammering Hong Kong 2’s Tsang Tsz Hung/Ng Wing Laam 21-13 21-8 before mercilessly crushing Sri Lanka 2’s’ Wattelage Shehani Ashanga/Warankulasuriya Rams Mudushani Peris in a totally one-sided affair 21-7 21-9 in 22 minutes.
Second seeds China 1 and third seeds Japan 1 also proved strong teams to be reckoned with in the tough competition. China 1’s Cao Shuting/Wang Jiaxi first struggled to beat Thailand 2’s Kaewta Noramart/Nasuda Janmong 14-21 21-16 15-9 before outclassing Indonesians Maria Dwiningtyas/Vitria Dwi Rahayu 22-20 21-13 to eventually top Pool B.
Third seeds Japan 1’s Reika Murakami/Hana Deguchi, silver medallists at the last year’s edition in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand, had a daunting task against China 2 to beat Zhang XinChen/Wang Ying 19-21 21-17 15-9, but enjoyed their run in the second match against Sri Lanka 1 after taming Manis Hewage Hashini Malsha Priyamali/Asurappulige Tharaki Velum Priyadarshani 21-6 21-10. With two straight victories, the Japanese tandem top Pool C.
The third round for both men’s and women’s events continued on Friday. The final showdown and ranking rounds will be held on Saturday. Top five teams in each gender will secure their berths to compete in the FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball Championship in Nanjing, China between July 11 and 16.