Norway and Japan each advanced two teams to the main draw of the FIVB SWATCH World Tour Bangsaen Thailand Open on Wednesday. The qualifying teams did not only survive one round of qualification, but also a tropical thunderstorm, with lots of rain pouring down on the Laem Than Pier.
Most of the eight qualifying teams that advanced made it into a World Tour main draw for the first time. One of them was the Czech team Michaela Vorlova and Karolina Rehackova. They overpowered Thailand’s Jirapron Kaewjanta and Saowaros Tangkaeo on centre court in two sets: 21-1 21-11.
‘’This was only our second World Tour event this year and the third overall’’, Vorlova said. ‘’We have been playing together for six years now, but we focus more on CEV events usually. So this is a big thing for us, getting into the main draw. That was our goal and now that we reached it, we really want to surprise in main draw.’’
The Thai team they defeated, was even less experienced. Both 15-year-old players, probably the youngest team ever to enter a World Tour event, had never played an international tournament before. They played indoor volleyball at school and started on the beach only this year. But they have big dreams, they want to be part of the Youth Olympiade in 2016 in China and play at the Olympics in 2020.
Their first step, their World Tour debut, was exciting and scary at the same time. ‘’This was the biggest match of my life’’, Kaewjanta said. ‘’I was just too excited to really play well. Normally there are just a handful of people watching us. So it was really overwhelming to play on centre court with so many spectators.’’ Tangkaeo: ‘’I was very nervous in the first set, but at the beginning of the second more people came in and started cheering for us. That made me play better in the second set.’’
The other teams that earned a spot in main draw were Norway’s Vilde Solvoll and Cindy Treland and Janne Kongshavn and Ane Guro Tveit Hjortland, Ayumi Kusano and Mutsumi Ozaki from Japan, USA’s Heather Hughes and Summer Ross and Germany’s Anika Krebs and Chantal Laboureur.
Canada’s Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas and Japan’s Sayaka Mizoe and Anjiera Ishida advanced without playing. They were given a bye as first and second seeded team in qualification. Due to the withdrawal of some main draw teams Colombia’s Andrea and Claudia Galindo and Spain’s Nazaret Florian and Olga Matveeva were added as lucky losers.
Main draw matches in Bangsaen will start at 8.00 on Thursday. Leading the field are Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler as the Swiss team Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr and Brazil’s 2012 World Tour champions Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta da Silva withdrew at the last moment.
Second seeded are Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. The American team won the event in 2008 and 2009 and finished second last year, losing the final to China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi.
Bangsaen is hosting a World Tour event for the first time. All six previous Thai World Tour events were held in Phuket. Thailand has never won a medal on home soil, best result so far was established by Varapatsorn Radarong and Kamoltip Kulna. They finished 13th last year.
The women’s only Bangsaen Thailand Open powered by PTT is the final event on the 2012 World Tour calendar. The men’s tour finished in August after the Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki.