Indonesia, Thailand continue to reign

Indonesia's Andy Ardyansyh and Koko Prasetyo (right) encountered stiff resistance from the Chinese duo of Tian Gaotang and Han Shen Wel before winning in three sets.-P. V. SIVAKUMAR Indonesia's Andy Ardyansyh and Koko Prasetyo (right) encountered stiff resistance from the Chinese duo of Tian Gaotang and Han Shen Wel before winning in three sets.

Compared with the previous edition, the Asian Beach Volleyball Championship in Hyderabad had a tremendous response with over 30 teams from nations as distant as New Zealand and Kazakhstan taking part, writes A. Joseph Antony.

Hyderabad has produced a string of national beach volleyball champions in its hinterland. A. R. Rajkumar and Mohammed Jameeluddin, Anwar Khalique and Mohammed Ghouse, Ramadevi and Anita ruled the roost for quite some time. Rajkumar and Jameeluddin represented India at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima where beach volleyball was an exhibition event.

These players started off on a sand pit at the Victory Playground at Chaderghat, on the banks of the river Musi, and won many laurels. But then, there came a time when they went beyond merely playing the sport. Under the tutelage of S. Ramnath, Convenor of the All India Beach Volleyball Council, they went about staging events across the country.

Over time, Arjuna Award winner V. Ravikanth Reddy, along with some former players, formed the Andhra Pradesh Beach Volleyball Players Club that began staging international tournaments at the temporary facility set up at the Necklace Road courts, skirting the historic Hussain Sagar Lake. The Asian Beach Volleyball Championship held here recently saw enhanced participation, with over 30 teams from nations as distant as New Zealand and Kazakhstan in the fray. The defending champions, Indonesia (in the men’s section) and Thailand (women’s section), retained their crowns, but had to encounter some stiff resistance along the way.

The Indonesian men’s pair of Andy Ardyansyah and Koko Prasetyo in particular was stretched to three sets by China’s Tian Gaotang and Han Shen Wei. On one occasion, Tian smashed so powerfully that it ricocheted off an Indonesian’s chest and went out of the arena!

Tian’s partner Han marshalled the backcourt well. The Chinese duo, though, was bemused by the diagonal drops from the Indonesians.

Kulna Kamoltip and Yupa Phukong of Thailand with the trophies.-PTI

On the distaff side, Kulna Kamoltip and Yupa Phukong of Thailand never gave up control though they were run close by China’s Miao Chenchen and Ji Linjun. The staging of the tournament wasn’t without its share of difficulties. On the first three days the heat was sweltering, but not a murmur was heard. However, minutes before the finals a sharp shower saw the spectators using the plastic chairs for cover. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm was high. The floodlit courts against the backdrop of the Hussain Sagar Lake presented a dazzling spectacle.

For a non-cricketing sport, the attendance was quite impressive with tickets of Rs. 200 denomination selling fairly well.

In addition to the action, there were the frills too, in the form of a live band, disc jockey and blonde cheerleaders from an international brewery. Though the gentle breeze blowing in from the lake now and then buoyed the ball, sometimes even moving it away from its regular path, the players would have found the going better than on a regular beach where the winds are much stronger.

THE RESULTS

Men’s final: Andy Ardyansyah & Koko Prasetyo (Indonesia) bt Tian Gaotang & Han Shen Wei (China) 21-15, 19-21, 22-20.

Semifinals: Andy Ardyansyah & Koko Prasetyo bt Borwoen Yungtian & Sataporn Sawangrueang (Thailand) 12-21, 21-19, 15-7; Tian Gaotang & Han Shen wei bt Farokhi Parviz & Maztar Hoshmand (Iran) 22-20, 21-17.

Ranking matches — 3rd place: Borworn & Sataporn bt Farokhi & Maztar 18-21, 23-21, 17-15.

5th/6th places: Babichev Alexandr & Kuleshov Alexey (Kazakhstan) bt Cireg Lindsay & Russell Watson (New Zealand) 21-19, 21-18.

Women’s final: Kulna Kamoltip & Yupa Phukong (Thailand) bt Miao Chenchen & Ji Linjun (China) 21-19, 22-20.

Semifinals: Miao Chenchen & Ji Linjun bt Jarunee Sannok & Usa Tenpausee (Thailand) 24-22, 21-14; Kamoltip & Phukrong bt Anna & Susan (New Zealand) 21-17, 21-14.

Ranking matches — 3rd place: Jarunee Sannok & Usa Tenpausee bt Anna & Susan 21-13, 21-19.

5th/6th places: Yue Yuan & Zhang Wenwen (China) bt Iswari Manokaran & Beh Shunthing (Malaysia) 21-17, 21-19.