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Aussie pair takes important first step before FIVB World Tour

Joshua Court (left) and Damien Schumann are aiming to make a big impression in 2014
Melbourne, Australia, April 12, 2014 - They came together almost as an afterthought, but this month Australians Damien Schumann and Joshua Court are taking their first steps on the international beach volleyball circuit.

Currently, the pair is competing in Thailand on the Asian Beach Volleyball Tour, but once that assignment is completed, they are hoping to use the experience to make their mark on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. 

The Melbourne-based men decided to team up at the end of last year, when both their regular partners were unavailable.

Almost immediately they gelled, although more on the court than off it, after Court had moved in with the Schumann’s in Melbourne.

But all those excellent home cooked meals soon began paying dividends, as “Damo and Josh” started making their mark on the Renault Australian National Beach Volleyball Tour.

They lost the Glenelg final in Adelaide to Australia’s top ranked team, Isaac Kapa and Chris McHugh, but the defeat wasn't a great shame, given the Kapa and McHugh combination went through the previous summer undefeated.

Next was Surfers Paradise in Queensland, where Schumann and Court really announced themselves on the Australian summer.

First, they beat McHugh and Kapa in atrocious conditions in a quarterfinal, and then carried that form through to the final where they beat Sam Boehm and Cole Durant in straight sets.

Unfortunately, that was as good as the summer got for the pair. Schumann was unavailable for Perth and then Court carried an injury into the final two rounds at St Kilda in Melbourne and Sydney’s Cronulla Beach.

"We played a state tournament last week and it was all fine," Schumann said on the eve of their departure to Thailand.

"The week before that tournament Josh was back to training 100 percent. It probably took him two weeks after the Oz Champs (Cronulla) to get right again. It was actually just a small thing. It was just his calf and ankle being really tight, which affected his hip which affected his back.”

International experience

Court and Schumann are among the first beneficiaries of a new era for Australian Volleyball after a generous sponsorship deal involving Volleyball Australia’s patron, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has enabled a bigger ‘Beach Volleyroos’ squad to travel overseas to gain valuable international experience.

Along with the Melbourne boys, the Gold Coast’s Mowen sisters, Jordan and Justine, went to Thailand; as well as national team pairings Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Sam Boehm and Cole Durant.

Schumann, who spent the summer counting his pennies expecting he’d have to fork out his own money to get overseas, is delighted.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Something like this has never happened to a team outside the traditional base of Adelaide. 

“We can choose which events we play. But it’s really important we do well in Thailand so we can qualify for FIVB World Tour events and potentially some Grand Slam events in Europe.

“It’s exciting but it’s a little bit scary too, because it is out of your control a bit.”

The usually unflappable Schumann, one of the most popular players on the Australian tour, admits while he’s excited at the opportunity, he’s also freaking out a little.

“I stress and worry about it,” he said, “and check the injury lists and recheck it, and count people’s points and count our points, but at the end of the day you’re really at the mercy of the final entry list.”

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