Mangaung, South Africa, December 9, 2014 - Saber Hoshmand and Bahman Salemiinjehboroun wrote history on Tuesday at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Mangaung Open. They are the first ever Iranian team to qualify for main draw at a World Tour event.
On centre court at the Rose Garden Park in the South African town of Bloemfontein Hoshmand and Salemiinjehboroun defeated home team Keifer Govender and Jerome Fredericks 2-1 (19-21, 21-9, 15-10).
“We played well”, said Hoshmand. “It’s the first time me and my partner played on the World Tour and also the first time in main draw. So we are proud.”
Only four matches
The men’s qualification tournament counted only four matches. The top four in qualification, USA’s Montgomery/Casebeer, Israel’s Sanderovich/Ohana, Austria’s Murauer/Schnetzer and France’s Salvetti/Daguerre, all advanced to main draw with a bye. The remaining eight teams played each other for the other four spots.
While the Iranians were the surprise of the day, the first match between USA’s Hudson Bates/Skyler McCoy and Australia’s Cole Durant/Casey Grice was actually the most attractive one with both teams showing entertaining beach volleyball with lots of rallies.
It were the Australians who earned a main draw ticket, winning 2-1 (23-25, 21-11, 15-9). After losing a tight first set, the Aussies shook off the nerves and dominated the rest of the game.
“It was a bit edgy, you know, it’s the qualifier”, Grice said. “I think we were both a little bit worried about coming this far and possibly going out.” But in the second set they took control, Grice confusing the Americans with his left hand attacks and Durant dominating at the net.
“He’s a huge blocker”, Grice said about his partner. “He is not the biggest guy out here, but he is athletic, he’s got a great game sense, he’s very smart. It’s good sitting back in the back court and seeing him blocking these balls.”
“We played pretty solid”, he continued, “We maintained a really good focus throughout the match. We are a new team, it’s our first World Tour event together, so we are happy to qualify and we are really looking forward to the rest of the event.”
Canada over the moon
Canadians Garrett May and Daniel Dearing secured main draw with a 2-0 (21-7, 21-12) win over another Iranian team, Karaminezhad/Mirzaali.
“Dan and I came to this tournament thinking the qualifier to be huge”, Garrett said after the match. “So we were preparing for a long tough qualifier. We were thankful that we only had one match. They are a good team. They challenged us for a bit there, but we played well. This is actually the first time both of us qualified for a main draw. So we are definitely over the moon, we’re excited.”
Italy’s Marco Caminati and Enrico Rossi, who finished 25th at the Parana Open in October, disappointed the home crowd by defeating the second South African team Ivan Solomans and Sven Mollgaard in just two sets (21-11, 22-20).
But later Tuesday evening Solomans and Mollgaard got into the main draw after all as one of three lucky losers. USA's Bates/McCoy and the second Iranian team Karaminezhad/Mirzaali were the other two lucky teams.
The inaugural FIVB double gender Mangaung Open will continue on Wednesday with the main draw for both the men and women. It will be the first female action in Rose Garden Park, since there was no qualification tournament for the women.
Mangaung, a metropolitan municipality that includes the town of Bloemfontein, is steeped in South African history as the birthplace of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC is the continent’s oldest liberation movement that spawned iconic leaders like Nelson Mandela (South Africa’s first Black democratic leader), Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisilu.
South Africa has hosted a total of seven FIVB World Tour events (5 men, 2 women) before. Cape Town has been the site of four FIVB World Tour events while Durban has hosted the other three tournaments. It is the first time an FIVB event is staged in an inland province (Free State).