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South Africa’s Williams is trying to focus on beach volleyball in emotional week

South Africa's Leo Williams (right) and Jerome Fredericks try to focus on beach volleyball in a very emotional week
Durban, South Africa, December 12, 2013 – South Africa’s Leo Williams, like all the other home players, is trying his best to focus on beach volleyball in this memorial week.

While the country is mourning for the loss of former president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, Williams and his partner Jerome Fredericks opened the first day of main draw at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Durban Open with a match against Namibia on centre court.

“It’s obviously emotional”, said 28-year old Williams. “A lot of players, people talking about it. It’s on your mind all the time. I obviously feel sad, because it was a great man that passed away. But we just have to focus and try to do our best to keep our mind on the game.”

Minute of silence

After the national anthem and a minute of silence in honour of Mandela the South African veterans got off to a good start, winning the first set 21-11. In the second set Namibia’s Tin Hlupic and Gerard Fischer, who got a wild card for the Durban Open, put up more of a fight. They closed in up to one point behind at 13-12, but Williams and Fredericks finished the match in the end at 21-17.

“In the second set they figured out their serve a little bit, they served better”, said Williams. “And I was a bit stifled with the reception. But overall it was ok, we were loosening up nicely, getting in form for the next part of the tournament.”

Williams and Fredericks have been playing together for four years, mostly on the national tour. They played one or two FIVB events, but never made it past pool play, their goal this week.

“We have a next match against Norway and then the Czech Republic. I am feeling we can do well and get one of those games to go our way and than we can go through to the next round.”

South African beach volleyball is picking up

Their biggest problem is not being able to train fulltime. “We need to get sponsors, obviously. Than we can train all the time and can play international. But beach volleyball in South Africa is picking up now. The promoter that just came aboard now, Geness Consulting, is doing well. He is putting a lot of effort into the sport and hopefully in the next two to three years they will send a few teams away for a longer period.”

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