2015-06-04 19:00:00 CEST
POREČ (Croatia) – Throngs of spectators were dancing in the Center Court grandstands on the third day of play (June 4) in Poreč, Croatia, where the opening tournament of the new Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series is surpassing even the high expectations of the sport's fans and athletes.
There was plenty to get excited about, as all six courts in Poreč were brimming with action and 12,000 fans flooded Center Court and the surrounding Trade Village over the course of the day. In the Pool play of the men's Main Draw, it was a day of surprises, as only three of the top-eight-seeded teams survived upset bids during Thursday’s first two rounds.
Making the biggest splash were the French team of Youssef Krou and Edouard Rowlandson and the Turkish partners Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe. Krou and Rowlandson, seeded 19th, were so strong that they defeated both the number 14 and number 3 seeds to capture Pool C on Thursday with one match still remaining in the group on Friday. The 24th-seeded Turks, meanwhile, took out the 9th and 8th seeds to lead Pool H with a 2-0 record. They now “only” need to defeat 25th-seeded (but unbeaten) Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov of Russia to secure their pool title – which comes with a guaranteed minimum placement of ninth in the Poreč Major as well as 360 points.
In women’s play, two teams each from Brazil and Germany netted pool titles. The Brazilians were Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca along with Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas. The German pairs advancing as group winners were Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler as well as Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude.
Other women’s teams winning their pools Thursday were Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez of Spain, Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy, Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia, and Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy of Australia.
The intensity will build to a fever pitch for the women on Friday with both Round of 16 and Quarter Final rounds ahead of their medal matches on Saturday, while the men will continue their all-out battles to earn a spot in the Round of 16.
The quality of the play and the first-ever Swatch Major Series stop itself seems to be infusing the tournament, which concludes on June 7, with incredible energy. Two-time FIVB Best Defensive Player Bruno Oscar Schmidt commented, “Just look around you. People around the world have a chance to see how special, fun and beautiful beach volleyball is. This is the best thing that could have happened to this sport.”