Serbia Montenegro Men's Open, Budva
From 26 May To 30 May 2004

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Agreeable Estonians tell it like it is
Budva, Serbia and Montenegro, May 26, 2004 - Noticable among the dark, tanned complexions of the Beach Volleyball athletes who have gathered in Budva for the Swatch - FIVB World Tour, are a couple of Estonians, slightly more pallid and reserved than the company they presently inhabit.

Apart from height, Kristjan Kais and Riso Vesik, the latter of the bright long blond hair, don't seem like your average Beach players. Softly spoken and reserved in temperament, this Estonian team are nonethelss determined to achieve their goal of Olympic qualification.

Playing together in their second season now, Olympic hopefuls Kais and Vesik enjoyed their best competition placing in an event organised in Athens in 2003 where they finished third. The Estonians made a promising start to the 2004 season when they finished 13th in Salvador, however, lesser performances in Cape Town and Lianyungang since then haven't helped confidence.

Coming off the back of the disappointing tournament in China, Kais and Vesik are hoping to put things right in Budva. "We didn't play well in the last tournament in Lianyungang," Vesik admitted. "We qualified for the main draw but once there we lost two games and we weren't at all happy about that. We really need some good finishes in these tournaments with Olympic qualification in mind . We think if we can manage some top twelve or sixteen spots we'll probably qualify for Athens."

In terms of their own popularity back home in Estonia, the players are quite circumspect. "We can't say that we're like superstars but Estonia is a small country and many people know who we are and what we do," Kais admitted. "Estonian people are really quite modest and they don't make a big deal about things if they recognise us," he added.

Noticable among the men's tour is the camaraderie and closeness of the players who frequently gather together to talk and watch games when they are not themselves playing or training. For these Estonian teammates, this is an important factor when traveling to events on the Swatch - FIVB World Tour. "We're all together for most of the summer and we are good friends with many of the players, it's supposed to be like this," Riso Vesik informed.

While speaking about the dominance of players from South America and the United States, Kristjan Kais and Riso Vesik became quite excited when the names Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera, the Spanish team that stunned Ricardo and Emanuel on their way to success at the recent China Open. "That win was huge for everybody in Europe," Vesik said. "Apart from the Laciga brothers, teams from Europe haven't had that much success compared to the teams from South America."

While agreeing with his teammate, Kristjan Kais felt that despite the Spanish triumph there was still an awful lot for European teams to do to offer a consistent chalenge to their counterparts from South America and the USA. "The Brazilians are always favourites as are teams from North America. Compared to Europe or Asia those guys are decades ahead. Beach Volleyball has it's origins in the United States and Brazil so we need some time to catch up."