Lessard and Martin advance to main draw on World Tour circuit

Photos from Moscow

Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., and Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., advanced to the main draw at the fifth stop on the beach volleyball World Tour circuit on Tuesday with convincing wins in their two qualifying matches.


The tournament is also the second of five this season designated as a Grand Slam tournament with prize money nearly doubled to $300,000.


Lessard and Martin opened the qualifying round defeating Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova of Slovakia 21-13, 21-11 then guaranteed themselves a berth in the main draw beating Katarzyna Urban and Joanna Wiatr of Poland 21-9, 21-15.


‘’They were two really nice wins,’’ said Martin, who posted three ninth-place finishes with Lessard on the circuit last season.  ‘’We played well in both matches and were very consistent.  What made the difference today was our service which put us in a great position in each match.  That was an area we really needed to improve upon from our earlier tournaments this year.’’


The Canadian pair, seeded 22nd, now compete in a round robin style tournament in the main draw.  They are in a four-team pool with sixth-seeds Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany, 11th seed Doris Schwaiger and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria and 27th seed Gioria Daniela and Giulia Momoli of Italy.


Lessard and Martin open against the Austrians Wednesday and play their final two round robin matches Thursday.  The top team in each of the eight pools advances to the round of 16 while second and third will battle it out in a playoff to grab those other eight round of 16 spots.


‘’Winning both matches 2-0 gives us a lot of momentum,’’ said Martin.  ‘’We were at our best and that gives us a lot of confidence.  We’re looking forward to more success.’’


The men’s qualification goes Wednesday.  Christian Redmann and Richard Van Huizen of Toronto already have a berth in the main draw.