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2018-08-01 16:22:00 CEST

Belgians battling through #ViennaMajor

They’ve not made it easy for themselves but Koekelkoren/van Walle are in the main draw

Dries (left) and Tom have gone from being bottom of the reserve list to being in the main drawDries (left) and Tom have gone from being bottom of the reserve list to being in the main draw

Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle aren’t doing thing the easy way – but they are in Vienna and they are in the main draw after battling through two dramatic qualification wins.

Yet it could have been oh-so different for the Belgians. The duo missed the entry deadline and found themselves at the bottom of the reserve list and it wasn’t until two teams withdrew that they could line-up in the qualification stage.

You’d think having made things difficult already, they would try and make it a little less stressful in the qualification. Think again. In both matches they lost the first set before storming back to win and storm into the main draw.

Time for an explanation.

“It was a rookie mistake but we are happy that we are now here,” Tom told us. “Mistakes can happen but we did everything to get in. Our coaches and the federation were on the phone all the time, in contact with the organizers and eventually we got the call with the good news.”

Having got the green light to come to Vienna, the Belgians hot-footed it to the Austrian capital to practice on Monday, 24 hours before qualification began.

“We actually received the news while we were training,” said Dries. “We booked the flight, raced home, packed our things and the next minute, two hours later, we’re playing in Vienna. It was a real Rush Hour moment.”

After a fifth place in Gstaad, can the Belgians make the semifinals in Vienna?After a fifth place in Gstaad, can the Belgians make the semifinals in Vienna?

he Europeans enjoyed a fine season last year, with two top-five finishes and a fourth in China in October.

However, this season the pair have found it tough to reach the same level – until they went all the way from qualification to the quarterfinals at the Swatch Major Gstaad last month.

“Maybe last year’s results raised our expectations,” admits Dries. “Perhaps we thought we had done enough to reach our level but in this sport it doesn’t work like that. We need to do the same things, get into the right routine and communicate with each other. We want to grow as a team and we’re happy that we’ve got back on track.”

Tom added: “It’s a good kick-start again, the negativity has been changed quickly. In Gstaad we didn’t have it easy either, we played the Grimalts, who won in Tokyo, and then won our pool. Our confidence has grown again and now we feel we belong at this level.”

You can watch the Belgians’ in action in the main draw by signing up to BeachStream.

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