Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 6, 2017 - With Olympic players from the past two quadrennials competing, the 2017 international beach volleyball season launches here Tuesday with men’s and women’s qualifying action at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major.
The first of four Swatch Major Series events on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar, the Fort Lauderdale Major qualification tournaments will advance eight teams per gender to Wednesday’s opening money rounds. Other Swatch Major Series stops will be in Croatia, Switzerland and Germany.Quick links - Beach volleyball:
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The featured Olympian in Tuesday’s competition with be Brazilian Barbara Seixas, who claimed the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Summer Games on Copacabana with Agatha Bednarczuk after the pair dropped the finale to Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.
Barbara will be paired with Fernanda Alves in Tuesday’s qualifier while Agatha earned a spot in Wednesday’s opening Main Draw rounds with 18-year-old Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa, the Nanjing 2014 Youth OIympic champion. Barbara and Agatha defeated compatriots Fernanda and Taiana Lima for the gold medal at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands.
Other women Olympians in the Fort Lauderdale Major qualifying field will be Marleen van Iersel of the Netherlands and Ekaterina Birlova of Russia. Both players are two-time Olympians as van Iersel will be playing with Manon Nummerdor-Flier Tuesday while Birlova will team with Nadezda Makroquzova.
In the men’s qualifier, Robin Seidl of Austria, Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany, and Sean Rosenthal of the United States are Olympians. Seidl is competing with Tobias Winter Tuesday after placing ninth at the Rio 2016 Games with Alexander Huber.
Erdmann and Matysik were ninth-place finishers together at the London 2012 Olympics before placing third at the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland. Erdmann is playing Tuesday with Armin Dollinger and Matysik paired with Alexander Walkenhorst. Rosenthal, who placed fifth at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games with Jake Gibb, is paired with Trevor Crabb.
Sean Rosenthal will play with Trevor Crabb
When play opens Tuesday, the 2017 season opener marks one of the earliest starts for an event in a calendar year on the FIVB World Tour. With the Fort Lauderdale Major opening the 31st year of men’s international competition and 25th campaign for women, only a 1992 stop in Australia (Sydney), a 1994 event on Miami’s South Beach and three tournaments (1998, 1999 and 2000) in Argentina (Mar Del Plata) were staged earlier than this week’s event at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
With the Australian and Argentinean events being held in the southern hemisphere in January, the Miami South Beach stop marks the earliest stop in the northern hemisphere as teams from Brazil and Norway captured the 1994 season opening event with play being held from January 15-22.
Wednesday and Thursday rounds will be played on six courts at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park and will feature pool play. The top three teams from each group advancing to Friday’s opening elimination rounds. The men’s semifinal and medal matches will be staged Saturday. The women’s final four matches will be Sunday as the winning pairs will split the $50,000 first-place prizes.
Over 100 teams from 26 countries have entered the Fort Lauderdale Major as Fort Lauderdale Beach Park hosts an international beach volleyball event for the second time in the last 17 months. The 2015 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals were held in October 2015 with the Brazilian pairs of Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca winning the gold medals.