Hamburg, Germany, June 6, 2016 - Main Draw withdrawals due to injury happen all the time on the FIVB World Tour, but when the top-ranked pair departs from one of the season’s biggest events, it is news.
Poland’s 24-year old sensations Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak withdrew here Monday from the US$800,000 smart Major Hamburg as the pair are currently No. 1 on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour ranking list with 4,040 points for their 11 international participations since October 2015 highlighted by four podium placements and a gold medal finish at mid-March’s Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana.
A right thumb injury has sidelined Losiak for this week’s stop after playing last week at the European Championships in Switzerland where the Poles placed ninth, but forfeited their second-round elimination match to eventual silver medal winners Konstantin Semenov/Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia after winning their pool.
The withdrawal will not hurt Kantor and Losiak’s bid for a berth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the Poles currently rank No. 8 on the qualifying list with 5,180 points for the best 12 international finishes since April 2015. Fifteen pairs from the FIVB World Tour qualify for the Copacabana quadrennial, excluding Brazilians, with a maximum of two pairs per country.
In their last FIVB World Tour stop in Russia, Kantor and Losiak gathered their second Grand Slam medal of the season by defeating Americans Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson in a three-set third-place match. Kantor labored in the bronze finale with a right knee injury.
“It has been a long and tough season,” said Losiak after the bronze medal match in Moscow. “Since April 2015, we have competed in 24 FIVB events and three European tournaments. Even though we are young, it has been a long process to reach Rio. We still have three more events ahead of us before we get a break. We are tired and looking forward to a break.”
After taking this week off and avoiding the “fanfare” of the last FIVB World Tour qualifying events for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Kantor and Losiak will have more time to prepare for the next international Grand Slam stop on “home” sand June 14-19 in Olsztyn, Poland. The young Poles are still entered in the event and hope to be atop the world tour standings when the international circuit visits Olsztyn for the second-straight season.
Italians Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri are the No. 2-ranked pair on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour ranking list with 3,620 points and can overtake Kantor and Losiak for the leadership by placing fifth-or-higher at the smart Major Hamburg. Other top-ranked pairs competing this week are Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico (3,230 points), and Americans Tri Bourne/John Hyden (3,110) and Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (3,070).
Alex Ranghieri (left) and Adrian Carambula of Italy
Tuesday’s men’s and women’s qualifiers at the smart Major Hamburg, the third of nine “big” events on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar, will add the final eight teams in each gender’s Main Draw competition where pool play will be featured Wednesday and Thursday. Elimination bracket matches start Friday with three rounds for the women and two rounds for the men. The women’s semi-finals and medal matches will be Saturday and the men’s “final four” contests Sunday. The winning teams will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.
In addition the Hamburg event, other SWATCH Major Series events will be held in Croatia (Porec, June 29-July 3), Switzerland (Gstaad, July 6-10) and Austria (Klagenfurt, July 27-31). The SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals will be held September 13-18 at a site to be determined.
Two of the four FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops have been completed in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13 on iconic Copacabana) and Moscow (May 24-29). After the Olsztyn “biggie”, the final Grand Slam will be in the United States (Long Beach, August 23-28) after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (August 6-18).
With the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour being men’s season No. 30 since the start of internationally-sanctioned events in 1987 on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg now becomes the 168th site to host a FIVB events and the second location in Germany. Berlin has hosted 15 men’s (1995-1999, 2001-2005, 2007-2008, 2012-14) events. Hamburg has also hosted three European Tour events (2006-2008) highlighted by the 2008 continental championships.
Reinder Nummerdor, who is now playing with Christiaan Varenhorst, captured the men’s gold medal with Richard Schuill as the Dutch pair defeated Germany’s Kay Matysik and Stefan Uhmann in the finals. Matysik is now playing with Jonathan Erdmann as the pair competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games together and are contenders for spots in Rio where their 2016 Copacabana spot could be confirmed in Hamburg.
Host Germany will have eight men’s teams competing in the Hamburg Major where three teams have already secured spots in the “money” rounds led by Erdmann/Matysik, Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen and Bennet Poniewaz/Alexander Walkenhorst. The other five pairs will compete in the preliminary rounds Tuesday vying for Main Draw berths.
Erdmann/Matysik and Bockermann/Fluggen are currently tied at No. 14 on the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying list where the top 15 pairs, excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two tandems per country, earn a spot in the Copacabana quadrennial.
German players scheduled to compete in the Hamburg qualifier will be Armin Dollinger/Clemens Wickler, Sebastian Fuchs/Stefan Windscheif, Toni Hellmuth/Eric Stadie, Tim Holler/David Poniewaz and Lorenz Schumann/Julius Thole.