Fernanda’s “Special” Beach Volleyball Moment
The Hague, The Netherlands, June 29, 2015 - Playing next to the parliament building in this European country has been unique for 24 teams competing in the 2015 FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships, but playing next to seat of the Dutch government was something “special” for Brazilian Fernanda Alves of Brazil here Monday on the sand at The Hofvijver stadium court.
While warming up prior to playing their second match in the 2015 world championships with Taiana Lima, The Hofvijver crowd produced “Dutch Delight” for the tall FIVB World Tour (189 cm, 6'2") competitor by singing “happy birthday” to Fernanda. “That was wonderful and very surprising,” said the 30-year old Fernanda. “I have never had that many people sing happy birthday to me at one time. This is a very special place for me as I won my first and only FIVB World Tour gold medal with Taiana in The Hague last season.”
Fernanda celebrated her birthday in fine fashion as she and Lima scored a 2-0 (21-19, 27-25) win in a 49-minute Pool I win over 33rd-seeded Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland Monday. It was their second win of the competition after opening group play Sunday with a 2-0 (21-5, 21-12) victory in 27 minutes over 40th-seeded Randy Williams and Palesa Sekhonyana of South Africa.
The Brazilians seek to win Pool I Tuesday to remain in The Hague for the opening round of elimination play in a match against 16th-seeded Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland. It is the second-straight season that Fernanda and Lima have played Heidrich and Zumkehr in an important FIVB World Tour match in The Hague. Enroute to winning the gold medal at the Dutch Grand Slam on nearby Scheveningen beach, the Brazilians posted a 2-0 (21-16, 21-7) quarter-final win over Heidrich and Zumkehr to advance to the semi-finals.
Fernanda and Lima now have a nine-match winning streak in The Hague after defeating Forrer and Verge-Depre Monday in the longest two-set match in either the men’s or women’s competition at the 2015 world championships where pool play action is also being played in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam. Overall, Fernanda and Lima have a 10-1 record in The Hague.
The Brazilians captured the 2014 Dutch Grand Slam gold medal on Scheveningen beach by posting a 2-1 (21-16, 16-21, 15-12) win in 55 minutes over Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany. After qualifying for the 2014 Dutch Grand Slam Main Draw, Fernanda and Lima’s only setback in The Hague was an opening pool play match to compatriots Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta 2-1 (21-16, 21-23, 27-25) in 70 minutes.
To reach the 2014 Scheveningen beach quarter-finals, Fernanda and Lima had to defeat a second Brazilian team - Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes. The match was interesting as Lima and Talita were the top team on the 2013 FIVB World Tour (five gold medal finishes) before splitting to play with Fernanda and Larissa, respectively. Fernanda and Lima won the 2014 Dutch Grand Slam match 2-1 (21-15, 15-21, 21-19) in 52 minutes.
Entering the 2015 FIVB World Championships, Fernanda and Lima had placed third in their last FIVB World Tour event in the United States where they lost the St. Petersburg semi-final match to compatriots Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 2-0 (24-22, 21-19) in 53 minutes. Agatha and Barbara won the Grand Slam event in Florida by defeating Antonelli and Juliana 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) in 61 minutes. It marked the 22nd-time since 1992 that Brazilian women have captured all three podium places the international circuit.
The start to the 2015 FIVB World Tour season was a “rocky” one for Fernanda and Lima as the pair lost Country Quota playoff matches to Carolina Horta and Liliane Maestrini in the Russian Grand Slam in Moscow and the Porec Major in Croatia. Fernanda and Lima finally defeated Carolina and Liliane at the Norwegian Grand Slam Country Quota match to eventually placed 17th in Stavanger. After winning only five of their first nine matches this season, the Brazilians have been victorious in nine of their last 10 confrontations.
While the 31-year old Lima has been a regular on the FIVB World Tour since 2010 (60 events) with six gold medal finishes to her credit, Fernanda is in her second full-season on the international circuit (15 events) after a 10-season indoor career. Lima has been playing in FIVB-sanctioned events since 2002 as she won two international under-21 world championship gold medals with Juliana (2002) and Carolina Salgado (2004).