Zumkehr aiming to create more memories at Rome Grand Slam
On the opening day of competition the Swiss duo began with a loss to Australians Taliqua Clancy and Louise Bawden, but then recovered to beat Italy’s Giada Benazzi and Viktoria Orsi Toth. They carried that form over into day two when they defeated Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler 2-1 (23-21, 15-21, 15-13) to secure second place in their pool.
“Good finish, bad start,” was how Zumkehr summed up their performances so far. “We started really badly and the Australians played well and we didn’t take our chance to win the game. But I think we’re second in the pool and still in the game. So we can go on dreaming of more.
“They (Semmler and Holtwick) are a very good team and we’ve played them a lot already this season, but that was the first time we’ve beaten them. We’re really happy, it was a good game and we kept pushing till the end after a bad set.”
A year ago Zumkehr and her then partner Simone Kuhn won their only FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medal by beating Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller in the final.
Since then Kuhn has retired from beach volleyball, so Zumkehr turned to former U21 world champion Heidrich to be her new partner and now that she is back in the Eternal City, she is hopeful that they can match their success of 2012.
“It is very, very special. I was really looking forward to coming here, but I was still shocked by how emotional it was,” Zumkehr said. “I arrived here and all the memories came back and I was close to tears. It is really nice being here because so many spots in the venue remind me of the most special moment of my career.
“I was disappointed after the first game that I couldn’t use the memories to play well, but now I think we are back in the game.”
Brazilians back in the hunt
Another team to recover from an opening loss were Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Agatha Bednarczuk.
They slipped to a defeat to fellow Brazilians Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas De Freitas, but ended day one with a win over England’s Lucy Boulton and Zara Dampney to their names.
In their only match on day two they needed just two sets to see off Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova 2-0 (21-18, 21-9) to finish second in their pool and they now feel that the conditions will suit them well.
“We are very happy because we beat two teams and are now second, with Brazil first and second in our pool,” Maria Antonelli said. “The weather is very good and very hot. It is our weather and I prefer this weather. It is our weather in Brazil, in Rio, all the time.”
The Rome Grand Slam is the fourth Grand Slam of 10 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The competition runs from June 17 until June 23, when both the men’s and women’s finals take place.
Following the Rome Grand Slam, the world’s leading players take a week’s break before the start of the ninth FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki from July 1-7. After the World Championships are completed the World Tour resumes the following week at the Gstaad Grand Slam in the Swiss Alps.
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