Chinese stars receive "big surprise" ahead of title defending journey at Sanya Open

09:12, April 28, 2011      

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Defending event champion Xue Chen and Zhang Xi of China were surprised by "a special gift" given by the organizers of 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Sanya Open here on Wednesday.

The Chinese duo received the invitation to be the "Image Ambassador of Sanya" at the opening ceremony of the first women' s single gender event of this season, but they have not been informed until minutes before the ceremony.

"Wow, we were really surprised," said Xue, who teamed up with Zhang to win the trophy of the Sanya Open last October. "It' s the biggest surprise for us this year along!"

Xue and Zhang, who first had the opportunity to train in Sanya in 2006, were honored to help promote the image of the beautiful Southern resort city of China.

"We have witnessed the change of the city in the last few years, it has become more and more beautiful," Xue added.

Featuring two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh from the United States, Brazilian star combination Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca as well as Sanya Open title winning teams from 2008 to 2009, namely Jennifer Kessy-Boss/April Ross of the United States and Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr from Switzerland, the Main Draw starting on Thursday will be big challenge for the host team.

"Of course we want to have good results, but we understand this is the year before the Olympics and the competitions will be really tough," Xue said. "We are in good shape, not the best. We will see how well we can do."

After three days of Main Draw matches, the finale will be played on Sunday.

This event is the 219th women' s competition in the history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.

Source: Xinhua
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