Aussies keep alive their hopes of making it two in a row in Thailand

Songkhla, Thailand, April 15, 2016 – Mighty Isaac Kapa/Chris McHugh and Joshua Court/Damien Schumann set up an all-Aussies clash in the men’s semi-finals of the “SMM” AVC Beach Tour 17th Samila Open as  Australian Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird take on Kazakhs Tatyana Mashova/Irina Tsimbalova in final rematch of the last week’s Pak Bara Open in the women’s semi-finals.


Kapa/McHugh, the current and three-time Asian men’s champions and gold medallists at the Pak Bara Open in Satun, proved an impossible nut to crack for Adisorn Khaolumtarn/Nuttanon Inkiew to eliminate the Thailand 2’s duo 21-14 21-18 in the round of 16.

In the quarter-finals, the Aussies went on their remarkable unbeaten run after thrashing Indonesians Ramadhan Gilang/Yudistira Pribadi Danangsyah in straight sets 21-13 21-16. The win handed Kapa/McHugh a berth in the semi-finals, where the powerful Aussies are due to challenge compatriots Joshua Court/Damien Schumann.

“Indonesia are a very good team. They are coming here with potential, young players. They are skilful. We played pretty well and very solid today. It is good to get through to semi-finals in Samila Open. We are going to play team-mates Australia 2. We expect a very tough match in the semi-finals. i really love coming here every year,” said McHugh.

Court/Schumann, bronze medallists at the last month’s Asian Championships at Manly Beach in Sydney, struggled to beat Qataris Julio/Ahmed Tina in hard-fought three-set thriller 23-21 18-21 15-13 in the quarter-finals.

“Qatar are a great team. We’ve played them in almost every tournament this year. We’ve played them three times in Asian tournaments. Playing against top seeds in the semi-final match on Sunday must be a tough match. They just won two tournaments (Asian championships and the Pak Bara Open in Satun). We have to give everything we have because we have nothing to lose. As far as I’m concerned, this tournament is great. We’ve been here many times. The beach is beautiful and the sand is nice. There are a lot of people. Food is good and the hotel is nice,” Court commented.

The other semi-final encounter sees Chinese Li Zhouxin/Li Jian pitted against Kazakhstan Alexey Sidorenko/Alexandr Dyachenko. The Chinese pairing downed New Zealanders Mike Watson/Sam O’Dea 21-19 21-13, while Sidorenko/Dyachenko, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, fought well in a tough match against Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammade Ashfiya to annihilate the well-established Indonesians 21-19 21-19.

In the women’s category, hosts Thailand’s Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, silver medallists at both the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea and the Asian Beach Games in Phuket in Thailand the same year, will test their mettle against Indonesians Dhita Juliana/Putu Dini Jasita in the semi-finals.

“Both teams played our best, but unfortunately they (Thailand 2) had to play us in the quarter-finals. Actually, I wish them to go farther and it is better to meet in the semi-final match. We’ve played Indonesian team before. They are very good team and they have improved a lot, so it is going to be an interesting match,” said Varapatsorn.

The other semi-final clash will be a final rematch of the last week’s Pak Bara Open in Satun when Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Nicole Laird, the current world U23 champions and silver medallists at the Asian Championships in Australia and the Pak Bara Open winners are due to prove their expertise against old foes Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova from Kazakhstan, whom they had beaten in the showdown in Satun.

“We are very happy to win this match. Japan are a very good defensive team. They are very good at controlling the ball. I think they are very skilful. We have to make sure that we play our game, high ball at the net. They definitely challenged us that way, but we showed our teamwork, played together strongly and back to the match at the end. It is an awesome tournament. It is so good to see so many people come to watch. This is my second time playing here in Songkla. It is good to come back here and we look forward to a big day on Saturday,” Del Solar commented.

In the quarter-finals earlier, Varapatsorn/Tanarattha tamed Rumpaipruet Numwong/Khanittha Hongpak in the all-Thais affair 21-11 21-9, while Indonesians Dhita/Putu followed suits by brushing off team-mates Desi Ratnasari/Yokebed Purari Eka 21-13 21-19. Australians Artacho Del Solar/Laird faced a daunting task against Shinako Tanaka/Sakurako Fujii to narrowly edge the formidable Japanese 21-14 20-22 16-14.

Kazakhs Mashkova/Tsimbalova did likewise as they struggled to beat Japanese Ayumi Kusano/Akiko Hasegawa in hard-fought three sets 18-21 21-18 15-10.

“We played tough in the second set. They (Japan) are a very good team. They have different strategy playing against us. In the second and third sets, it was difficult for us because it was very windy, but i think we wanted to stay in this set and play in semi-finals on Saturday. Then we started to play aggressively. I think we did our best. This tournament is very good.i I like the venues as we can see beautiful sunset. This is beach volleyball,so we have to play on the beach. The sand is very deep. Some teams find it difficult to play, but it is good for us,” Mashkova said.

The men’s semi-finals kick off at 9am on Friday, with the women’s event being held at 10pm. The third-place playoffs and the final showdowns will take place in the afternoon, followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.