Lucerne, Switzerland, May 17, 2015 - It was a long week for Marco Caminati and Alex Ranghieri had to play more matches than anybody in the inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Lucerne Open 2015 to advance to the FIVB World Tour gold medal match, but in the end the Italians did not have to serve a Mikasa as a knee injury for The Netherlands’ Robert Meeuwsen forced the Dutch to forfeit the title contest.
The 27th-seeded Italians, who had to win two matches in Wednesday’s qualifier, earned a spot in the finals by posting a 2-1 (22-20, 19-21 and 15-11 victory over 28th-seeded Nico Beeler and Alexei Strasser of Switzerland in Sunday’s second semi-final match. Seeded eighth in the US$150,000 Lucerne Open, Meeuwsen and partner Alexander Brouwer captured the first semi-final match Sunday by defeating 10th-seeded Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe of Turkey 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) in 38 minutes.
After returning to the player’s hotel to rest before the finale against the Italians, Meeuwsen felt he would risk further injury to his right knee if he continued in the competition. Part of his reasoning is due to being prepared for the start of the FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships in The Netherlands (June 26-July 5) where Meeuwsen and Brouwer are the defending champions after claiming the title in 2013 in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
“I just did not want to risk any further injury to my right knee,” said the 27-year old Meeuwsen, who missed most of the early part of the 2014 season due to injuries. “We were looking forward to playing the Italians, but my knee just was not feeling right. Defending our world championship title at full-strength is my No. 1 goal.”
Due to the forfeit, Caminati and Ranghieri were awarded the gold medal along with sharing the $11,000 first-place prize. By winning nine-straight matches this week, Caminati and Ranghieri become the eighth team since 2001 to win a FIVB World Tour gold medal after qualifying for the Main Draw.
“It is unfortunate about Meeuwsen’s knee problems,” said the 27-year old Ranghieri, who has now posted his best finish on the FIVB World Tour after posting a fourth at the 2013 German Grand Slam in Berlin. “Advancing to the finals to play the world champions was truly remarkable for us since we had to qualify for the Main Draw. It has been an amazing week for us and we are thrilled with our result.”
With the Italians being seeded 13th in the 32-team qualifier (27th in the 32-team Lucerne Open Main Draw), Caminati and Ranghieri are the lowest seeded qualifying team to win a FIVB World Tour gold medal. The Lucerne Open is the first FIVB event for Caminati/Ranghieri partnership.
Meeuwsen and Brouwer finished second and split $8,000 for netting the silver medal. The silver medal finish is the second this season for the Dutch on the FIVB World Tour after Meeuwsen and Brouwer lost to a German team in the finals of the 2015 season-opening event in Fuzhou, China.
Turkey claimed its first-ever medal on the FIVB World Tour as Giginoglu and Gogtepe posted a 2-1 (21-18, 18-21 and 15-4) win 51 minutes over Beeler and Strasser, The Turks split $6,000 for third-place while Beeler and Strasser shared $4,500 for fourth-place.
“We are honored to be the first team from our country to win a medal on the world tour,” said the 27-year old Giginoglu. “We are a new team on the tour, so we are learning a lot with each event. Today’s wins along with the experience of playing a lot of matches against world class competition will really help us.”
This week’s double gender FIVB World Tour event is also the second event on the qualifying schedule for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With a second-place finish Sunday, Meeuwsen and Brouwer earned 450 points to improve their provisional-leading Olympic standing to 900 points.
ON THE HORIZON
Following Lucerne Open, the men take a week off from FIVB World Tour play while the women proceed to the Czech Republic for the US$75,000 Prague Open starting Tuesday with possible country quota matches. The men rejoin the women on the international circuit in Moscow May 26-31 for the first of five grand slam stops on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar.