By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The 2010 Beach Volleyball World Tour began last week with the Brasília Open, at the Esplanada dos Ministérios stadium, with mixed success for the home sides. A total of 140 male and female doubles teams from 36 countries took part in the competition, but once again the Brazilian pairings were clear favorites and strong doubles like Juliana/Larissa and Alison/Emanuel were expected to impress the partisan home crowd.
In the Women’s Event, the aforementioned 2009 World Tour champions Juliana and Larissa picked up were they left off last season and claimed a straightforward gold. The final match was against the impressive German double Ludwig and Goller, but the home country duo won 2-0 (taking the first set 21-15, and the second 21-19), dedicating victory to their legions of fans.
“I know our Brazilian fans intimidated them today, especially in the first set. It’s great to play an FIVB (Beach Volleyball International Federation) match in Brazil in front of our incredible fans, and to win makes it even better”, said Juliana.
The bronze medal was captured by another Brazilian team, the Salgado sisters. Carolina and Maria Clara took third place by defeating April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, from the USA, in straight sets (21-16 and 21-15).
In the Men’s Event, however, things didn’t quite go according to plan for the home country teams. On Sunday the gold medal was claimed by 2008 Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers from the USA, who easily brushed aside the Brazilian pairing of Alison and Emanuel by two sets to love (21-16 and 21-12).
It was the first time in fourteen years a foreign duo won a Men’s World Tour event in Brazil, but the Americans dominated from start to finish, rising to the challenge and silencing the Brasília arena throughout the final.
“We decided to serve the middle, which worked, and our experience as a team did give us a little edge. Being the first international tournament of the year and with all the great Brazilian players, I have always felt that this is the toughest tournament of the year. If you are playing in Brazil, you will be playing the best”, said an ecstatic Rogers after the game.
In the all-Brazilian bronze medal match, Benjamin and Bruno defeated Pedro Cunha and Thiago by two sets to love (21-18 and 21-12).
The Beach Volleyball World Tour takes place between April and November, with 29 events (fifteen female and fourteen male) in fourteen different countries. The next stop of the Tour will be the Shanghai Open in China, kicking off on May 3rd with the final on May 9th.