Porec, Croatia, June 27, 2017 - Niina Ahtiainen and Ida Sinisalo are not familiar names on the FIVB World Tour, but the Finnish beach volleyball duo posted a fine finish here Tuesday during the women’s qualifying rounds at the Porec Major as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Swatch Major Series event returns to the Croatian coastal resort city for the third-straight season.
Playing in only their fourth FIVB World Tour event and third this season, Ahtiainen and Sinisalon posted their first-ever match wins on the international circuit as the 13th-seeded Finns posted a 2-1 (23-21, 12-21, 15-13) win in 49 minutes over fourth-seeded Julie Gordon/Camille Saxton of Canada to advance to the Porec Major Main Draw rounds that start Wednesday with pool play matches.
A pair of 20-year old competitors who first competed in the FIVB World Tour in 2012 at the age of 15, Ahtiainen and Sinisalon opened play Tuesday by eliminating 20th-seeded Milena Matic and Marija Milosevic of Serbia 2-0 (21-14, 21-9) in 29 minutes to advance to the final round of qualifying against a Canadian team that won two FIVB World Tour gold medals earlier this season in Australia and have qualified for next month’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna.
With the two victories, the young Finns joined seven other teams in gaining Main Draw berths for the eighth double gender event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar. Ahtiainen and Sinisalon will also be the second Finnish pair in the Porec Major Main Draw as compatriots Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen gained a spot via their international ranking points.
The Netherlands’ teams of seventh-seeded Jolien Sinnema/Joy Stubbe and 12th-seeded Manon Nummerdor-Flier/Marleen van Iersel also won qualifying matches Tuesday to advance to the Main Draw over pairs from Australia and Russia, respectively. With a combined 9-0 preliminary rounds match record this season, both Sinnema/Stubbe and Nummerdor-Flier/van Iersel have been successful each of their four qualifying bids this season.
Other qualifying teams Tuesday were first-seeded Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar of the United States, second-seeded Taiana Lima/Elize Maia of Brazil, third Nadja Glenzke/Julia Grossner of Germany, sixth-seeded Marta Menegatti/Rebecca Perry of Italy, ninth-seeded Jagoda Gruszczynska/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland and 16th-seeded Mariafe Artacho/Phoebe Bell of Australia.