Fuzhou, China, April 22, 2015 – FIVB world champions Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands end the first day of the main draw clear leaders of Pool F in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open 2015. The first FIVB tournament of the season also opens the Olympic qualification window for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
In its third consecutive year, the FIVB Fuzhou Open is the first double-gender FIVB Open event of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with a prize purse of US$150,000.
Brouwer/Meeuwsen start the new season with high hopes and get off to a great start in the main draw with two wins to top their pool. Their first match of the tournament placed them up against China’s Li Zhouxin/Zhang Lizeng. The Dutch pair’s strength gave the Chinese team a hard time and Bouwer/Meeuwsen closed the match 2-0 (21-13, 21-17).Fully back from injury
Also in Pool F is Israel’s Sean Faiga/Areil Hilman who have finished fifth in their last two FIVB Open appearances in Parana and Mangaung. The pair beat Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros from Mexico in a long battle ending 2-1 (21-19, 23-25, 15-13), leaving the winner of the match against Brouwer/Meeuwsen to decide top of the pool.
Brouwer/Meeuwsen came out with a similar strength displaying unstoppable set plays and careful control. Israel attempted to break the power with a timeout at 19-14 allowing them to gain an extra few points, but Brouwer/Meeuwsen took the first set 21-17.
Faiga/Hilman held their own in the second set, but perhaps the long morning match taking its toll, the points began to slip away from them. Meeuwsen’s presence at the net and a huge Brouwer hit closed the match 2-0 (21-17, 21-15).
“We’ve played two matches now today, the first day of the season. It was really clean, we played good, so I think we did good. We didn’t know what to expect against the Israeli team because the guys beat the team from Mexico this morning and so we knew they were tall guys, they were able to hit really hard. I didn’t know them before so I was excited to play and I’m happy we beat them,” said Meeuwsen.
“The match was really fun, it was a bit of a tactical game, strong serving with the wind. It was a little bit more windy than this morning and I enjoyed every point. I think we won pretty easily so it gives us a lot of confidence, as we focused with a smile so for me that’s the perfect way to play beach volleyball,” said Brouwer.
Both Brouwer and Meeuwsen come into Fuzhou after a challenging off-season dealing with injury.
“Our preparations were good, we both recovered from some injuries in the winter. Alex got surgery for his ankle and I had some knee problems that I have pretty much every winter, but we took a long time for it and the preparation went on like we planned it and we’re fit and ready to play,” said Meeuwsen.
“I’m really happy to play and to be on the court again. Last year wasn’t our best season and we were a little bit disappointed so now after surgery, I’m feeling well and energetic. We practiced really well this winter, so it’s really good to be back on the court playing matches and with the real thing,” said Brouwer.
Brouwer/Meeuwsen play Virgen/Ontiveros from Mexico in their final pool match on April 23.Ingrosso twins success in Pool A
Matteo Ingrosso/Paolo Ingrosso from Italy enjoyed a successful opening day in Fuzhou cruising through their two matches to top their pool. The result places them ahead of top seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst from the Netherlands in Pool A.
In the morning Ingrosso M./Ingrosso P. beat Jesus Villafañe/Jackson Henriquez from Venezuela 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) before meeting China’s Peng Gao/Yang Li.
Despite encouragement from the crowd P. Gao/Y. Li, who have come all the way from the country quota matches, had difficulty competing with the experienced Ingrosso twins. Ingrosso M./Ingrosso P. had a strong end to the 2014 season just finishing outside the final four at the Doha Open and have come out hard in Fuzhou.
Ingrosso P. blocked well at the net and a huge Li Yang hit saved match point, but a final Italian smash was too powerful to return, securing the match 2-0 (21-16, 21-14).
“It was a very hard match against China, they’re a good team. We had to play very well and we are so happy to win two matches today. We trained a lot before Fuzhou and feel we are ready,” said Ingrosso P.
Ingrosso M./Ingrosso P. will face Nummerdor/Varenhorst in the final day of pool play on April 23.
“The Netherlands team is one of the best teams in the world. We know each other already, we are friends and when we play them we will have to play very hard, because they are a good team, but we hope to win tomorrow,” said Ingrosso P.
The Fuzhou Open is held at the purpose built venue in the city’s Mianjiang Riverside Park. China has hosted a total of 49 FIVB World Tour events and the second Chinese stop on the 2015 calendar will be the double-gender event FIVB Xiamen Open scheduled for September 22 to 27.
The gold medal teams in each gender at the FIVB Fuzhou Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.