Lessard and Martin advance to main draw at beach volleyball World Tour stop

STAVANGER, Norway - Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., and Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., earned two wins in qualifying on Tuesday to advance to the main draw at the seventh stop on the FIVB beach volleyball circuit.

The competition is also the second Grand Slam event with prize mone nearly doubling to $300,000 for both the men and women.

Lessard and Martin, the third-seeds in qualifying, defeated Margo Wiltens and Merel Mooren of the Netherlands 21-17, 18-21, 15-13 to advance. The Canadians opened the day with a 21-19, 21-15 victory over Elisa Cella and Valeria Rosso of Italy.

The Canadians were trailing 8-10 in the third set against the Dutch.

“Marie-Andrée made some great serves that helped us win the third,’’ said Martin. ‘’We stayed patient and determined throughout that set even though they led most of the way. We want to keep serving hard and play aggressively throughout the tournament.’’

The Canadians were one of eight teams to qualify for the 32-team main draw which starts Wednesday. The 32- squad are now split into eight pools of four for a round robin tournament. Martin and Lessard are seeded 22nd and are in a pool with number-six Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China, number 11 Doris Schwaiger and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria and number-27 Gioria Daniela and Giulia Momoli of Italy. 

The top-team in each pool gains a berth in round of 16 while second and third place play an extra playoff round to determine the other eight teams for the round of 16.

Men’s competition gets underway Wednesday. Christopher Redmann and Richard Van Huizen of Toronto are scheduled to compete in qualifying.