Tokyo, Japan, July 25, 2019 - Two teams from France posted surprising results here Thursday during the opening pool play matches at the Tokyo Open where the event is serving as a dress rehearsal for next year's Summer Games in the Japanese capital.
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The upset victories in both the men's and women's competition at the FIVB World tour were achieved over higher-seeded pairs from Brazil, Qatar and host Japan with Denis Masseglia, the president of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee, in attendance for Thursday’s mid-day action at Shiokaze Park.
The French successes started with a 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-10) Pool E win for 20th-seeded qualifiers Quincy Aye/Arnaud Gauthier-Rat over fifth-seeded Alison Cerutti/Alvaro Filho of Brazil, who entered this week's event after winning a FIVB World Tour event in Espinho, Portugal.
Aye and Gauthier-Rat, who won two qualifying matches on Wednesday to advance to the Tokyo Open main draw, assumed the Pool E leadership with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) win in 32 minutes over eighth-seeded Cherif Samba/Ahmed Tijan of Qatar. The French pair ends group action on Friday morning against 17th-seeded Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle of Belgium.
"We arrived here from Canada not expecting anything," said the 24-year-old Gauthier-Rat. "I think it helped playing two qualifying matches on Tuesday to help us prepare for the weather conditions. We are excited about our success so far, but Friday presents more challenges as we play another tough team from Belgium."
Aline Chamereau and Alexandra Jupiter posted the second upset win for the French as the 19th-seeded qualifiers defeated sixth-seeded Miki Ishii/Megumi Murakami of Japan 2-1 (24-22, 24-26, 15-13) in Thursday's longest match at 67 minutes.
Alexandra Jupiter (left) and Aline Chamereau posted an upset win on Thursday over a Japanese team.
"This win means a lot to us," said the 29-year-old Jupiter. "That Japanese team defeated us here last year during the elimination rounds, so we got some revenge. It is a thrill for us to play here where the Olympics will be held next year. Our goal is to be qualifying through the World Tour, so this win helps us a lot. But we still have two matches left in our group against higher seeded teams from the United States and Germany."
While the French men validated their opening win Thursday, Jupiter and Chamereau dropped their second match in a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) setback in 33 minutes to seventh-seeded Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings of United States.
Jupiter and Chamereau end pool play on Friday morning against 18th-seeded Julia Sude and Karla Borger of Germany.