FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Antalya Open | 20 - 25 October 2015

#AntalyaOpen


Press release

Flying start for Belgian pioneers Koekelkoren and Van Walle in Antalya


Belgians Dries Koekelkoren (right) and Tom van Walle just started their beach volleyball career

Antalya, Turkey, October 22, 2015 – Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle had a flying start at the FIVB World Tour Antalya Open on Thursday. With two straight wins over USA and Turkey the 14th seeded Belgians already secured a spot in the elimination rounds.

In their opening match 14th seeded Koekelkoren and Van Walle defeated USA’s Stafford Slick and Mark Edwin Burik (19th) 21-19, 21-12 and booked another 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) against home team Yasin Baysal and Ali Osman Nurettin (30th). On Friday they will face third seeded Markus Böckermann and Lars Flügen from Germany for the pool win.

The Antalya Open is only their fourth World Tour event, but the Belgians already claimed 17th and 9th place in their previous two events in Xiamen and Puerto Vallarta. But they still haven’t played more than half of the other teams yet and it’s trial and error every time.

Koekelkoren: “We didn’t know what to expect of the Americans, because it’s a new team. We know Slick because he used to play with Rogers, but we didn’t know the other guy. But I think we played very aggressive with the right focus and we are very happy with two times 2-0.”

Whenever they get the opportunity Koekelkoren and Van Walle like to show off with fastballs, walk-arounds or attacks in two. “We are not the strongest team on the tour, there are a lot of guys taller and stronger than us, so we like to vary with our play”, Koekelkoren explained. “When we have a hard time during a match we change pace or tactic. That usually helps.”

The Belgian pair, who won the national championships a couple of times, just recently took to the sand fulltime, coming from indoor. It is all a big gamble, because there is no beach volleyball structure in Belgium and both players give up some good money in volleyball.

“The past two years Tom played Champions League with Antwerp. He had a big contract with financial security”, Koekelkoren said. “So we hesitated for a long time if we should engage on this beach volleyball adventure, because there is no beach volleyball project in our country.”

“But this year we said: ok, then we will be the pioneers. We are not the youngest anymore 27 and 28, but I think we are not too old yet. And the federation is behind us now, they want to organize a permanent beach volleyball structure. We want to make the best of our potential but we also want to set up something for the future so that there will be youth behind us to take over. That is our goal.”

Unlike compatriots Liesbeth Mouha and Liesbet van Breedam, who finished ninth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but had to organize and finance everything by themselves, Koekelkoren and Van Walle will get support from the federation.

Koekelkoren: “Respect for them, but we wanted to take a different road and get the federation behind us. It will still be a big adventure, but I am happy we both dared to take this step.”

Slow start for Turkish stars Gogtepe and Giginoglu

Home favourites Volkan Gogtepe and Murat Gignoglu started their home campaign at the Antalya Open with a 2-1 loss (21-18, 21-23, 15-11) against Norway’s Geir Eithun and Lars Fredrik Tvinde.

But according to Giginoglu there was no reason for panic. “We are slow starters. This happens every tournament. We always have problems with the concentration in the first match.”

And the eighth seeded Turks, who won their first medal in May (bronze in Lucerne), did indeed recover nicely. In their second pool play match they defeated lucky losers Maksim Hudyakov and Ruslan Bykanov from Russia with straight numbers (21-18, 21-18).

“The second game was much, much better”, Giginoglu said. “We were physically more ready. The ball control was very good. 2-0 is a good win. And it was an important win for the pool position.”

The 28-year old blocker denies that playing at home means extra pressure. “There is no pressure, because we are very happy to play at home. Of course everybody is expecting good results from us. And we do want to fight for that, to get good results. Because that’s also important to make beach volleyball more popular in Turkey.”

The men’s competition continues on Friday with the final pool play round. Apart from the Belgians and Böckermann and Flügen, the following teams also booked two straight wins: Mexico’s Virgen/Ontiveiros (4th), Latvia’s Plavins/Regza (9th), Germany’s Holler/Schröder (12) and Poland’s Kosiak/Rudol (16th).

The elimination rounds start on Saturday, the semifinals and medal matches are scheduled for Sunday.

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