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Back to zero again for Smedins and Samoilovs

Aleksandrs 'The Lion King' Samoilovs
The Hague, the Netherlands, June 12 2013 – New team Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs won gold in Corrientes just a few weeks ago, but the Latvians do not count themselves as favourites for the Transavia The Hague Grand Slam yet.

“It was a big win and you should celebrate, but the next day it’s back to zero”, Olympic bronze medallist Smedins said Wednesday on a windy Scheveningen beach. “And no, I don’t think we are the favourites here, or the team to beat. We are second in the pool, tomorrow we have a tough match against number one Poland. But we do want to finish first.”

Their first and only match on the first day of main draw in The Hague was a tough two-setter (21-19 22-20) against Brazil’s huge blocker Evandro and Vitor Felipe, runner-up at the World Championships under 23 last week in Poland. Smedins: “We won, that’s all there is to say about this match. Brazil is always a tough match.”

Bronze medal in London

Smedins hooked up with Samoilovs after he won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games with long time partner Martins Plavins. “Nobody understood why we were splitting the teams up, but it was an idea from both our fathers, who are also our coaches, to make Latvian beach volleyball stronger”, Samoilovs explained. “And after Corrientes people understood.”

They knew they were in good shape after a great training camp in Egypt, but the victory at the Grand Slam in Argentina was still a bit of a surprise. “We thought we needed at least four or five tournaments to feel each other”, Samoilovs said. “Our coaches were surprised we did it so fast.” Smedins: “We did not think to make such a big step. I was more aiming for event number 6 (World Championships).”

Change of partner and position

The more experienced Smedins is happy with his new partner. “He is amazing. He always gets the crowd on our side. With Sascha (Aleksandrs) there’s more dynamic and I also wanted to change to play in defence because I am not the tallest guy”, Smedins explained his choice for a new partner and a new position. “I like the challenge of mastering the defence and Sascha has a good block. Together we might not be as spectacular for the spectators as it was with Martins but we are more productive this way.”

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