Olympic medal winners in action Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale Major

Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 8, 2017 - Led by four-time Olympic medal winner Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, podium placers from the last five beach volleyball competitions at the Summer Games will be in action here Wednesday at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major.

Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, the gold medal winners in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, headline the men’s Fort Lauderdale Major field along with the team that they conquered in the Copacabana finale last August Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy.

Being played on six courts at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, the first of four Swatch Major Series events on the 2017 FIVB World Tour opened Tuesday with the men’s and women’s qualification tournaments where eight teams per gender earned spots in Wednesday’s opening rounds.

Wednesday’s schedule features 32 men’s and 18 women’s pool play matches. Group action concludes Thursday with 30 women’s and 16 men’s pool contests. The top three teams from each group advance 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.

Walsh Jennings, who captured gold medals at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games with Misty May-Treanor, teams with her Rio 2016 Summer Games bronze medal partner April Ross.  Seeded first in the women’s competition, the Americans will play 32nd-seeded Manon Nummerdor-Flier/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands. Ross also claimed an Olympic silver medal at the London 2012 Games with Jen Kessy.

Other Olympic medal winners in the women’s field are Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk (Rio silver with Barbara Seixas), Larissa Franca (London bronze with Juliana Felisberta) and Barbara Seixas, and Kira Walkenhorst (Rio gold with Laura Ludwig) of Germany.

Agatha is now playing with Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa as the fifth-seeded Brazilians will be meeting 28th-seeded qualifiers Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar of the United States in their first match Wednesday. Larissa and Talita Antunes, seeded second in the competition, meet 18th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Sara Hughes of the United States.

Barbara and new partner Fernanda Alves had to win a qualifying match Tuesday to gain the 16th-seed in the Main Draw as the Brazilians will meet 17th-seeded Taru Lahti/Anniina Parkkinen of Finland in their first match Wednesday. With Ludwig sidelined due to shoulder surgery, Walkenhorst and new partner Julia Grossner will play twice Wednesday as the fourth-seeded team.

The Germans open play against 29th-seeded qualifiers and compatriots Sandra Ittlinger/Teresa Mersmann in their first match Wednesday followed by a challenge from 20th-seeded Kristina Valjas May/Taylor Pischke of Canada. Walkenhorst and Ludwig defeated Larissa and Talita in the Rio Olympic semifinal followed by a gold medal victory over Agatha and Barbara last August on Copacabana.

With the men playing two pool play matches Wednesday, the third-seeded Alison and Bruno will be challenged on the first day by 14th-seeded Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson of the United States and the 30th-seeded qualifiers Poniewaz (Bennet and David) of Germany.

The 10th-seeded Lupo and Nicolai meet the 23nd-seeded Grimalt cousins (Esteban and Marco) of Chile to open play Wednesday followed by match against 26th-seeded qualifiers Kay Matysik/Alexander Walkenhorst (Kira’s brother) of Germany.

Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser (facing)

Other men Olympic medal winners in the Fort Lauderdale Major Main Draw are Phil Dalhausser of the United States (Beijing gold with Todd Rogers), Pablo Herrera of Spain (Athens silver of Javier Bosma), Latvians Martin Plavins/Janis Smedins (London bronze), and three-time Summer Games podium placer Ricardo Santos of Brazil (Sydney silver with ZeMarco de Melo, Athens gold and Beijing bronze with Emanuel Rego.)

Seeded first with Nick Lucena, Dalhausser will be playing in the same pool with the 32nd-seeded Ricardo and Harley Marques. The two teams will meet Wednesday along with playing pairs from Austria (17th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst will play the Americans) and Russia (16th-seeded Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin will meet the Brazilians).

The sixth-seeded Herrera and Adrian Gavira will play Wednesday matches against 27th-seeded qualifiers Maciej Rudol/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland and 22nd-seeded Marco Caminati/Alex Ranghieri of Italy.

The second-seeded Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs will play 31st-seeded qualifiers Trevor Crabb/Sean Rosenthal of the United States and 18th-seeded Kacper Kujawiak/Mariusz Prudel of Poland Wednesday.  The 20th-seeded Plavins and Haralds Regza will meet 13th-seeded Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland and fourth-seeded Gustavo Carvalhaes/Pedro Solberg of Brazil Wednesday.

Quick links - Beach volleyball:
Fort Lauderdale Major Series - Website
Fort Lauderdale Major Series - Schedule and results
Fort Lauderdale Major Series - Teams - Men
Fort Lauderdale Major Series - Teams - Women
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2017
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Swatch Major Series 2017
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