Gstaad, Switzerland, July 8, 2016- While the men play only one round of pool play matches to set the field for their 24-team elimination bracket play Saturday, the women competing in the US$800,000 Gstaad Major play three knockout rounds here Friday in this Swiss Alps village hosting the international Beach Volleyball tour for the 17th-straight season.
Led by five of the six teams that will be seeded among the top pairs at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the women’s elimination rounds will set the schedule for Saturday’s semi-finals and medal matches on the Village’s center court as the “final four” compete for the $57,000 first-place prize.
Top-seeded and defending Gstaad Major gold medal winners Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil will be the featured team in the top-half of the women’s bracket. Other teams in the upper bracket that received “byes” for the first round of elimination after winning their pools Thursday are 11th-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy, seventh-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands and 20th-seeded Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland.
Kerri Walsh, a six-time winner in Gstaad, and April Ross of the United States are joined in the lower part of the bracket by three other Gstaad Major pool winners, including third-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst and ninth-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe of Germany, and 12th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez of Spain.
With those teams watching, the women’s elimination play opens Friday morning with eight matches highlighted by center court matches for two host country teams - 13th-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre and 22nd-seeded Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli.
With 14 of the 16 Rio-bound Olympians still competing in the Gstaad Majors, Betschart and Huberli will play fourth-seeded Copacabana participate Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan in one of four opening elimination matches Friday with the winner meeting Talita and Larissa in the mid-day Round of 16. Talita and Larissa will be the top-seeded team in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Forrer and Verge-Depre, who join Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr as Switzerland’s Rio competitors, play 26th-seeded qualifiers Lane Carico/Summer Ross of the United States in the second-flight of opening knockout matches with the winner meeting Ross and Walsh Jennings in the Round of 16.
One of the opening elimination matches will pit two teams heading to Brazil for the Olympics when 15th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of the United States meet 25th-seeded Fan Wang and Yuan Yue of China with the winner playing Lahti and Lehtonen. The Fins won their pool that featured Bansley/Pavan and Forrer/ Verge-Depre.
Other opening elimination matches in the top-half of the bracket are 10th-seeded Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy of Australia playing 32nd-seeded Dutch teenagers Nika Daalderop/Joy Stubbe and 21st-seeded qualifiers Maria Antonelli/Liliane Maestrini of Brazil meeting Jantine van der Vlist/Sophie van Gestel of The Netherlands.
One of the lower bracket elimination bracket matchs is an All-German affair with 18th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler playing 27th-seeded compatriots Teresa Mersmann/Isabel Schneider. Holtwick and Semmler captured the 2014 Gstaad FIVB World Tour stop by defeating Borger and Buthe in the finals.
Other matches in the lower bracket elimination matches are 16th-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima of Brazil against 24th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Penny Karagkouni of Greece, 14th-seeded qualifiers Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany against fifth-seeded Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland.