Japan's Sakaguchi & Suzuki gain first elite main draw appearance

Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2019 - Yurika Sakaguchi and Chiyo Suzuki have posted four semifinal appearances this season on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, but the Japanese pair has never competed together in a main draw at a four- or five-star event on the international circuit this season.

That all changed here Wednesday at the $300,000 Tokyo Open as the eighth-seeded Sakaguchi and Suzuki posted a 2-1 (17-21, 24-22, 15-12) qualifying win in 50 minutes over ninth-seeded Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo of Australia to advance to this week's four-star main draw.

"We are delighted with our play today," said the 25-year old Sakaguchi.  "We were on the brink of elimination in the second set with the Australians, but we stayed calm and were able to force the third set. To advance to a World Tour main draw in our country is tremendous, especially with this event attracting a lot of attention as an Olympic test for 2020."

In two previous four-star events in Brazil and Poland this year, Sakaguchi and Suzuki lost three-setters to teams from the Netherlands (Itapema) and Argentina (Warsaw) in the final round of qualifying to place 33rd. With their win Wednesday, the Japanese pair is guaranteed a 19th.

Earlier this season, Sakaguchi and Suzuki posted a silver medal finish at a one-star event in India (Visakhapatnam) with three bronze medal placements at two-star events in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and China (Nanjing and Qidong).

Other teams qualifying for the women's Tokyo Open main draw were top-seeded Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado and third-seeded Talita Antunes/Taiana Lima from Brazil, second-seeded Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil of the United States, fourth-seeded Xinxin Wang/Chen Xue of China, fifth-seeded Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider of Germany, 10th-seeded Aline Chamereau/Alexandra Jupiter of France and 11th-seeded Khanittha Hongpak/Varapatsorn Radarong of Thailand.


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