Hamburg, July 10, 2008. Germany’s women’s Beach Volleyball teams started their campaign in order to chase the defending champions Arvanity/Karadassiou from Greece at the NESTEA European Championship Final in Hamburg.
“We have six teams in the starter’s field here so our goal is to have at least one of our duos at the top of the podium at the end of the tournament”, the German national star Laura Ludwig says. Of course Laura Ludwig would prefer if her partner Sara Goller and herself would win the gold medal and the 20,000 Euros in prize money at the end of the four-day competition. “We finished second at the European Championship in Valencia last year and would love to top that this time around”, the member of the Hertha BSC sport club says. The German top team is in fact entering the tournament on the Rathausmarkt sporting the first place black shirts: “Of course our goal is to win”, Laura Ludwig says.
However, in a all-German duel against Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich in the second round, Goller/Ludwig struggled very much against their compatriots. In the hard-fought three-set victory (18:21, 21:17, 25:23) they had to fend off four match points before finally silvering their own seventh match point to seal the deal in an exciting third set. The families of both players suffered with Goller/Ludwig in the stands on the centre court and Sara Goller’s father even didn’t dare to watch the final moments of the third set.
The European champions Vassiliki Arvanity and Vassiliki Karadassiou also had some troubles in their second match. They had to come back from one set down against Anja Günther and Geeske Banck though winning comfortably in the end (21:23, 23:21, 15:6). The longer the game lasted the more the Greek duo took control of the operations. “They are not the defending champions for no reason”, Anja Günther said. “You can feel the self-confidence which derives from the fact that they have been playing together for a long time.”
”We had a bad start, but it is good that finally everything worked out” adds Vassiliky Kardassiou. In the third winners round Susanne Glesnes and Kathrin Maaseide from Norway will be the opponents of the defending European champions. It is the ninth time these duos are going to face each other but the Greek starts can rely on an immaculate head-to-head, having secured all the previous eight matches.
Vassiliki Arvanity is prepared for the toughest competition: “The toughest competitors will definitely come from Germany, but we also need to reckon with the Norwegians. We see all the German teams at the top of the list. They simply belong to the European Beach Volleyball elite.” All this does not change their self-confidence. When asked who the favorites in Hamburg are, both say. “We are!” The weather on the first day in Hamburg was really that kind we love in Greece”, Vassiliki Karadassiou said. “We just enjoy playing in the sun, but we will manage to do our best also with rainy conditions.”
Laura Ludwig has recognized the advantage “that it is not so hot here. You can just go out and play.” Meanwhile the Greek guests are enjoying the culinary advantages of the host nation. “We enjoy playing in Germany”, Vassiliki Karadassiou says. “Everything is very well organized and we have already tried the German food. It is delicious!”
Nr. 1 seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig are going to take on Van Iersel/Wesselink from the Netherlands in the third winners round. It is the second duel between such duos and the first one was won by Goller/Ludwig during the FIVB World Tour in Brazil.
Another German outstanding duo, which consists of Okka Rau and Stephanie Pohl, is going to play against Belgium’s Liebeth van Breedam and Lisbet Mouha. Pohl/Rau will try to extend their series of four wins against the Belgians, but the local favorites are warned, as they lost right a year ago against their next opponents at the German Masters. The fourth match in round three will be played by Hakedal/Torlen of Norway and Koutrumanidou/Tsiatsiani, the second best Greek duo.
For more information visit Beach Volleyball - European Championship Tour