Dorina and Ronja Klinger claimed that this weekend’s trip to the Maldives, breathtaking islands off the coast of South Asia that are home to just half a million residents, but host nearly two million tourists per year, is all about business.
Austria's Klinger sisters finding quick success on 'business trip' to Maldives Challenge
Ronja and Dorina Klinger might look like they're on a vacation in South Asia, but they're at the top of pool play after day one
Published 05:08, 14 Oct 2022
There they were on Thursday, climbing trees, swinging in hammocks, skipping down a pier, eating at an oceanfront restaurant – all on pure business, of course. Whatever their pre-vacation -- pardon me, tournament -- routine may have included, the Austrian sisters might be well-served to continue keeping matters light, as they emerged on top of Pool A with a pair of upset wins over Slovenia’s Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin, and top-seeded Miki Ishii and Sayaka Mizoe of Japan.
“Pool winners in paradise,” they labeled Friday’s work day. It isn’t the first time they’ve pulled a Cinderella dance through pool, either. In Espinho in mid-July, the Klingers emerged from the qualifier to upset Argentina and Canada to win pool, and they’d eventually finish ninth. In the Maldives, they are already guaranteed a ninth. Now seeded No. 1 in bracket play, the Klingers will play the winner of Slovenia and Finland’s Anniina Parkkinen and Sara Sinisalo.
“Proud of our performance,” Ronja Klinger, the elder of the two, wrote on social media. “But this water colour is just…”
The colour of business, really.
All five American teams advance out of pool play
At the onset of the Maldives Challenge, nearly a quarter – eight of the 40 total teams – hailed from the United States. Six were in the qualifier alone, with Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft, and Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn seeded directly into the main draw. Three emerged from the qualifier, though it took no small deal of luck for that to happen. Savvy Simo and Jessica Gaffney actually fell in the final round of the qualifier to Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz, but because four was evidently not enough American women in the main draw to please the Volleyball Gods that be, Simo and Gaffney were awarded a lucky loser spot into the main draw.
They’ve made the most of it, winning their second match of pool play against Canadians Megan and Nicole McNamara – former college teammates of Simo’s at UCLA – to break from pool, although to continue advancing will require yet another lucky loser victory. In the lucky loser round of bracket play, they’ll face a familiar foe in fellow Americans Zana Muno and Julia Scoles, who also won their second round of pool play over Norway’s Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Emilie Olimstad.
The remaining three Americans in the field – Stockman and Kraft, Quiggle and Schermerhorn, Allie Wheeler and Deahna Kraft – have all moved into the ninth-place rounds, although it remains a possibility that more American civil wars could be featured in the quarterfinals, should the United States continue winning.
Friday was a good day to be an Olympian in the Maldives
The Maldives Challenge has its fair share of elite talent, namely in Olympians Barbora Hermannova, Fan Wang, Xinyi Xia, and Miki Ishii, all of whom have competed in at least one Olympic Games. And yes, Friday was a good day to be an Olympian in the Maldives.
Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova won both of their pool play matches – both of which went to three – as did Xia and Meimei Lin. Wang and Lingdi Zhu broke pool after winning their first and losing their second, to Hermannova and Stochlova, while Ishii and Sayaka Mizoe likewise won their first match and dropped their second to the aforementioned Klinger sisters.
Two rounds in, and all Olympians remain in the field.