Sochi, Russia, September 8, 2015 – Norwegian veteran Geir Eithun (35) helped his rookie partner Lars Fredrik Tvinde (23) to reach his first World Tour main draw on Tuesday. They defeated Alexandr Prichshepa and Abdulmajid Mokhammad from Kazachstan 2-0 (21-14, 21-4) in the qualification tournament of the FIVB Beach Volleyball Sochi Open in Russia.
Tvinde is not a complete beginner though. The left-handed defence player comes from a well-known volleyball family and won silver at the FIVB U23 World Championships last year. The partnership with Eithun is temporary in the absence of Eithun’s long-term teammate Iver Andreas Horrem, but it will give Tvinde the opportunity to gain experience on the World Tour.
“This is for now”, Eithun said about the temporary agreement. “My partner has some small problems that he is fixing right now. It’s a good chance for both me and Lars to play some tournaments.”
Eithun and Tvinde met up at the Zonal Event in Oslo last weekend and it feels good, Eithun said. “He brings a lot of energy into the game. He is offensive. And it is his first time in the main draw, so of course he is eager to get there. I just have to try to follow.”
Asked about their goal here in the Russian resort, Tvinde said. “We just made it. We will have to go to our room and find ourselves a new one.” Eithun added: “We will just try to improve our game. We played together last weekend and now we just want to figure out which parts of the game we have to work on and just have fun with it.”
The age difference doesn’t matter, both players agreed. “It’s the first time I play main draw. That is a new experience so I think I will learn a lot”, Tvinde said. “Geir has a lot of good tactical stuff. He is always having good game plans, so I learn a lot from that.”Host country teams
Host country Russia advanced two teams from qualification to raise the number in main draw to six. Twelfth seeded Igor Velichko (20) and Maxim Sivolap (19), who won bronze at the CEV U22 at the end of August, defeated fifth ranked Austrians Daniel Hupfer and Julian Hörl 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) on centre court.
“It was not easy because it was the first time we participated in such a big tournament. We were nervous in the beginning”, said Velichko. “But after that we became stronger and used our emotions to play better.”
The Russian fans in the 1,500-seat Sport INN stadium were a big help, Velichko said. “Our friends are here to support us and we feel that. This helps us.”
Latvia’s T. Smedins/Sorokins (2nd), China’s HA Likejiang/Bao J (3rd) and Li Zhuoxin/Li (4th), Russia’s Likholetov/Leshukov (7th), Gordieiev/Babich from Ukraine (9th) and Slovakia’s Horvath/Hukel (11th) also advanced to the main draw of the Sochi Open.
Starting Wednesday the 2014 Moscow Grand Slam winners Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov will star as home favourites in the men’s main draw. They will have to compete with Rio Open champions Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, Italian top team Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai and American veterans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena for the medals in Sochi.
Tournament director Ilya Volodarsky is pleased with the high level of the Sochi Open field, which will attract a lot of beach volleyball fans and tourists to the beach stadium on the edge of the Black Sea.
"We have successfully launched this beach volleyball marathon in Sochi. During September 4-5 the venue ‘Sport INN’ was almost packed for the CEV Continental cup. People loved it. I note that during this week there will be more matches, more athletes. From 8 to 13 of September you will be able to see a number of Olympic athletes, European champions and the best local athletes. Thanks to the administration of Sochi and the Krasnodar region for the opportunity to stage the competition such a high level in Sochi.”