31.07.2019 - Vienna, Austria
Janis Smedins had already pictured the perfect plan for his 32nd birthday. Partner Aleksandrs Samoilovs and him would win their second and final qualification match at the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch and then follow it up with a nice dinner in the Austrian capital for the double celebration.
Too bad for him, though, Dutchmen Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde didn’t like the plans and decided to ruin their celebration with a 21-19, 16-21, 16-14 upset that sent the favorite Latvians home without making it to main draw of the tournament at the Danube Island.
The Dutch victory had an incredible turnaround in the third set as Varenhorst and van de Velde were trailing 5-10 until they took the lead for the first time 13-12 and sealed their qualification ending an undesired run of four-straight qualifier eliminations.
“It feels as if we had won a final here,” Rio 2016 Olympian Varenhorst said. “I think the difference was that we kept on fighting. We’ve lost several qualifiers recently and we were talking about it. We’ve been through some tough moments and that was the case again today, but kept on fighting and that created some opportunities which we took advantage of this time.”
For the 24-year-old van der Velde, it will be his first main draw appearance in a Beach Major Series event.
“After a tough of tough weeks, we knew this match was all or nothing for us,” the recently-converted defender added. “I’m glad we came out on top and I’m really looking forward to see what we can do in the main draw. We just need to keep fighting.”
Varenhorst and van de Velde weren’t the only Dutch duo to advance as top-seeded Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen also secured a main draw spot following a 22-20, 21-17 triumph over Germany’s Sven Winter and Jonathan Erdmann.