2018-07-28 10:00:00 CEST
The 2017 world champions will be back in the Danube Island - but now in different sides of the net
When Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola won the 2017 World Championships in Vienna, it was hard not to foresee the Brazilians dominating the international scene for a while. After all, they were both young and had the tools to do so.
Their results kept coming in the following months - including silver at the Hamburg Finals and gold on home sand in Brazil - but things change quickly in beach volleyball, and one year after their historical achievement in Vienna, Evandro and Andre are ready to return to the Danube Island to compete in the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch - but not as partners anymore.
Their union ended back in May, when Andre decided to pair with Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and Evandro picked Vitor Felipe to be his next teammate.
“I certainly didn’t expect I’d be returning to Vienna one year later with a different partner and I guess Andre didn’t either,” admits 28-year-old Evandro. “Our cycle together was very positive and we achieved a lot. I’m grateful for the time we had as partners, but now we’re focused on our new teams and trying to make them work.”
However, as both of them return to Vienna to pursue their particular goals, it’s impossible to avoid the memories of last year’s campaign in the Austrian capital. Their hard-fought victory over home heroes Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in the gold medal match at a packed Center Court is certainly one that’s still very alive in their minds.
“I have a handful of great memories, but one moment that always comes to my mind is that run I had in the service line in the end of the first set,” Evandro says. “I had three straight points to win the set for us and it changed the match. Being in a final and against the home team, that’s certainly a memory I’ll carry for the rest of my life.”
Last year in Vienna was also a very meaningful one for Andre, who, at 22, became the youngest player to become a world champion in just his first edition of the World Championships. The Espirito Santo-native is looking forward to reuniting with the Viennese fans again, but he knows that a new battle will start when he steps foot in the Danube Island.
“Anytime you win a tournament you build those great memories and this was by far my greatest victory, so Vienna is pretty special to me,” says Andre. “I’m really excited to return there, the energy is just different. I can’t forget the packed stadium in the final and I’m sure the fans will be back this year and the event will be amazing again. But I know that despite of having won there last year, I’ll have to earn it all over again.”
For Evandro, a Rio 2016 Olympian, the 2017 World Championships occupy an honorable second place on his list of career accomplishments.
“It’s hard to compete with the feeling I had when I played the Olympics in my hometown in front of my family and my friends,” he explained. “But I’d put Vienna right up there. It was a fantastic week there and I cannot wait to return this year. I’m really anxious to play there again.”
The 2.10m-tall blocker and his partner Vitor arrive in the Austrian capital looking to bounce back from a frustrating 25th-place finish in the Swatch Major Gstaad a couple of weeks ago. Their brief union, however, has had more ups than downs so far, as the team won the silver medal in Warsaw, finished fourth in Espinho and fifth in Ostrava.
“We’ve had good results so far, except for Gstaad,” Evandro added. “Vitor was sick and he couldn’t play well, but that’s not an excuse, we should have done better. But overall we’ve been doing well and the results show we’re going in the right direction. With the amazing coaching staff we have, I’m sure we’ll keep progressing and will reach our goals.”
The road has been a little bit harder so far from Andre and Alison. The Brazilians have played in the same four events and have a fifth-place in Warsaw was their brightest moment so far as they were 17th in Ostrava and 25th in both Espinho and Gstaad.
To Andre, it’s all part of the process.
“We kind of expected we’d have those early struggles and it’s a good thing we are going through them together and learning from them, so there’s nothing wrong with us,” says the youngster. “We played these events just having practiced together for two weeks and of course our chemistry needs to get a lot better. But at the same time, considering our individual quality, we know we can win any tournament and we are trying to do the best we can to get better results. But we need to patient and keep working.”
Welcome back to the Island, champs!