Ostrava, Czech Republic, May 30, 2019 – Martin Ermacora & Moritz Pristauz became the lowest-seeded team to qualify for the men’s round of 16 at the four-star J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2019 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Playing under #28 in the 32-team main draw, the Austrian pair overcame tough opponents to score two wins on Friday and stay in contention.
The day’s first task in front of Ermacora & Pristauz was to get past pool play. In the third place match in Pool E, they snatched a hard-earned 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) shutout of USA’s Theodore Brunner & William Reid Priddy. In the first elimination round, they had a much higher obstacle to overcome, fourth-seeded Cherif Younousse & Ahmed Tijan. The Austrians lost the first set, but then mounted a furious comeback to win by 2-1 (16-21, 21-15, 15-10) and reach the last 16.
“We are very happy with our performance today. Actually, we did pretty well in the last weeks, but there was always something small that prevented us from winning,” said Pristauz. “In the last two or three days we got a little bit of luck on our side as well, and suddenly the ball keeps rolling. We are playing good volleyball, our serving was really good today, and if we keep that momentum, we can beat even bigger teams as well.”
In a battle for a spot in the quarterfinals, Ermacora & Pristauz will face home favourites Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner on Saturday.
“I think it’s always fun to play against the home team, because the stadium will be fully packed,” Ermacora commented. “We haven’t played them before (or maybe in youth tournaments years ago), but we know them well. We are pretty excited and can’t wait to play at centre court tomorrow.”
Four more pairs won their third-place pool matches in the morning and went on to upset their second-placed opponents in first knockout round and advance to the second – Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren & Tom van Walle, Brazil’s Andre Loyola Stein & George Souto Maior Wanderley, Canada’s Sam Pedlow & Sam Schachter and Chile’s Marco Grimalt & Esteban Grimalt.
The Grimalt cousins went through a 2-1 (14-21, 21-14, 15-12) comeback win over Austria’s Robin Seidl & Philipp Waller and a 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) victory over Dutch standouts Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen to face last year’s winners at Ostrava, Spain’s Pablo Herrera Allepuz & Adrian Gavira Collado, in the next round on Saturday.
“It was a really good day for us. The first match was really tough, because we still feel a little bit tired mentally from the long trip from Chile. But we entered the second one a lot better, we served well, we played well in block-defence and we are so happy to make the second round again,” commented Esteban Grimalt. “Herrera & Gavira are really good friends of ours and a really good team, the defending champions from last year. We are going to prepare the game the best that we can tonight and tomorrow we’ll play at 100% to achieve the win.”
Only three of the pool runners-up managed to secure first-round success and stay in contention – last year’s bronze medallists Konstantin Semenov & Ilya Leshukov of Russia, Latvia’s Martins Plavins & Edgars Tocs, and Pedro Solberg & Vitor Goncalves Felipe of Brazil, who squeezed out a nail-biting tie-breaker victory over Austria’s Clemens Doppler & Alexander Horst.
First whistle for the men’s round of 16 on Saturday is at 12:30 local time and the quarterfinals are scheduled in the late afternoon.