Yokohama, Japan, July 22, 2015 – Canada’s Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton top their pool after two victories on first day of main draw at the 2015 FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam. The double gender $800,000 FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam marks the first time both men and women have competed together in a FIVB World Tour event in Japan.
The Canadian pair gained top spot of Pool A after posting two straight set wins, first against Australia’s Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh and then over Koichi Nishimura/Yuya Ageba from Japan.Top spot for Schalk/Saxton
The pair earned a confident thirty minute win over Australia 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) before meeting Nishimura/Ageba at the close of the day on centre court. Schalk/Saxton quickly stamped their authority on the first set, keeping focus through to end the first 21-10.
Nishimura/Ageba rallied hard in the second and held the lead at the midway point, but Canada regained control and sealed their second victory and fastest match of the day at 27 minutes, 2-0 (21-10, 21-17).
“We feel pretty good, we won a couple of good matches, quite solid both of them and we’re through to the elimination round and now we’ve got to try and win the pool,” said Saxton.
“Japan played really good, they’re scrappy, they’re a little smaller than us but they got on me so that was good. I didn’t play too good personally but Ben picked me up a bit and we studded out towards the end, but we did what we needed to do to come out with the win so that’s the important thing,” said Schalk.
The Canadian pair will face Yokohama top seeds Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst from the Netherlands to decide Pool A winner on July 23.
“We want to try and do the same tomorrow, they are a very good team obviously, so we’ll try to just play solid,” said Saxton.
“We’re one in one with them this year, so it’ll be a good game,” said Schaulk.Brouwer/Meeuwsen face tough opening day
Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands held on to beat Italy’s Matteo Ingrosso/Paolo Ingrosso in a gruelling three set match, finally snatched by Brouwer/Meewsen 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 16-14).
The Ingrosso twins had been on fine form on the first day of pool play beating Spain’s Herrera/Gavira. Brouwer/Meeuwsen were not enjoying the same confidence losing to Barsouk/Koshkarev in their morning match, 2-1 (21-19, 21-19).
Ingrosso M./Ingrosso P. came out strongly in the first appearing with the same energy as their morning match and a number of service errors by the Netherlands helped their score along to win the first set.
The second and third set were as tight as a beach volleyball match can get, with absolutely nothing to separate the two teams. The points continued to be traded evenly until Brouwer/Meeuwsen finally made it count to close the match.
“I don’t think the rhythm was really good, we’re not playing our best level. Also this morning, the score was really close but we didn’t really play like we can. We have some steps to make but I’m really happy that even with how we are playing now we took a win here from the twins, it’s an important one and I hope we can grow some confidence and regain rhythm and hope we come back stronger tomorrow,” said Brouwer.
“We didn’t play very well today, not at all, not even in the first match and the second was also not very good, but the difference between the first and the second is that we just kept fighting and that lead to the victory for us,” said Meeuwsen.
They are always tough matches because they are so versatile, so athletic that it’s always difficult especially with the wind like it is, but in the second set my partner was blocking some great balls and I couldn’t get a grip on them and he took the lead and got some balls and the third set was close and it just fell our way,” said Brouwer.
“The weather is hot, but because of the wind it’s not that annoying and it’s just something you have to get used to. The good thing is that you always have four people on the court and it’s more like a match of who handles in the best, so it doesn’t really matter for us what kind of conditions there are,” said Meeuwsen.
Brouwer/Meeuwsen sit second in Pool E and will play their final group match against Herrera/Gavira (ESP) on July 23.
This year’s FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam will be the third of five double-gender FIVB Grand Slams, each with a total purse of $800,000, on the FIVB World Tour 2015. Seven FIVB men’s only events were held in Japan from 1989-1995 with six being held in Enoshima and one in Yokohama in 1991. A total of 14 women’s only events were held in Osaka from 1994-2005 and in 2008 and 2009.
Japan has hosted a total of 21 FIVB World Tour events (seven men, 14 women) with the United States leading the medal count for men and Brazil dominating the medal tally for women.
Following the Yokohama Grand Slam the 2015 FIVB World Tour will have a three-week break before resuming in the United States with the double-gender FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam in Southern California set for August 18-23.