XIAMEN, China, Oct. 24 -- Top ranked teams including Sao Paulo Grand Slam champions April Ross and Kerri Walsh of the United States and Chinese top seeds Xue Chen/Xia Xinyi posted a pair of wins in the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Grand Slam women's Marin Draw starting here on Thursday.
Ross/Walsh had no great difficulties taking consecutive 2-0 wins over Austria' s Barbara Hansel/Bianca Zass and Poland' s Kinga Kolosinska/Monika Brzostek to share the lead in pool E with Italy's Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth.
"I feel good. We played two good teams and it's interesting because it's windy here and I really like the wind. So I think it's very good practice to work in this situation with my new partner, we never played in the wind before together. We are so new and every experience is good," said Walsh, who claimed the gold medal at the Sao Paulo Grand Slam two weeks ago with her new partner Ross.
"That (victory) was great, but we didn't do so well in the AVP last weekend, so we have so much room for improvement and this is a very big tournament for us and we want to do very well, like we did in Sao Paola, even better I hope," added Walsh, who had won three Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012 with Misty May. "We have so much to learn about each other I have so much to learn about my new position. I'm really excited to get better so we'll take one match at a time and keep focusing on that."
April Ross, the silver medal winner at the London Olympic Games with Jennifer Kessy, was also excited with the new combination. "Now I'm permanently playing with Kerry and I am really excited about how my game is going to change playing with her. There is a lot for me to work on, it feels great," she said.
Reigning world champion Xue Chen from China and her 16-year-old new partner Xia Xinyi also made an impressive start at the Xiamen Grand Slam, beating Russia's Olga Motrich/Daria Rudykh 21-15 and 21-13 in the morning before overcoming Italy's Gioria Daniela/Laura Giombini 21-12 and 21-19 in the afternoon to keep the lead in pool A.
"It's her debut at international events and I think here debutant performance is much better than mine," said Xue, who had paired with Zhang Xi to win China's first ever beach volleyball world championship in July. "I was kind of nervous in my debut, but I don't think she is nervous at all."
Second seeds Taiana Lima/Talita Da Rocha Antunes, third seeds Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado, both from Brazil, and fourth seeds Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany also collected two wins in a row.
Thirty-two teams are playing a single round robin in eight groups with top three finishers from each group to advance to the 24-team knockout stage. The double gender Xiamen Grand Slam is the last of a record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.
China has hosted more than 23 women's and 14 men's tournaments on the FIVB World Tour, but this is the first visit for an FIVB international beach volleyball event in the city of Xiamen. The event in Xiamen is one of three FIVB international beach volleyball events being held in China this year. The first was the 2013 FIVB Open tournament held in Fuzhou from April 23-28, followed by the Shanghai Grand Slam, which took place from April 30 to May 5, 2013.