Germany's Ludwig and Sude making the most of a temporary partnership
The 28-year old Ludwig had a great start this season with her partner since 2013 Kira Walkenhorst, winning gold at the Shanghai Grand Slam and bronze at the Prague Open and European Championships. But it soon became clear that Walkenhorst was not feeling well.
The 23-year old blocker contracted the Epstein-Barr virus in January and could not shake it off. In June she made the difficult decision to resign for the rest of the season to let her body recover fully.
Ludwig started searching for a temporary partner to be able to keep their point level up on the World Tour and to keep her rhythm. She did not have to search for long to find 26-year old Sude.
“It was a sad situation, kind of, but my first choice was definitely Julia”, Ludwig said. “I am really happy she said yes to me and that we can play some tournaments. We are new together, we never played together and it’s always a kind of different motivation as well, having someone new, try out new things.”
Ludwig and Sude played their first matches together in Gstaad, finishing 17th before they travelled to the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam in the Netherlands for their second event. Tuesday evening they heard they were assigned to the Marktplein in Apeldoorn, one of the three venues.
Pushed by the Russians
In their first match on Wednesday they were pushed hard by Russian qualifiers Alexandra Moiseeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva, but came back in the tiebreak from 8-11 to win 21-15, 19-21, 15-11.
Sude: “We were pretty good and confident in the first set and in the second it was two or three points. We made some easy mistakes and we were a little bit confused about a decision from the referee. But in the third we had good block-defence.”
For Sude it was not easy to leave her friend and team partner Chantal Laboureur, but she saw the advantages and the bigger picture. “It was hard to leave Chantal, because we like each other very much. We are friends, but it was a decision for the team.”
“We could not play all the grand slams, Chantal and me”, Sude continued. “And now I have the chance to play all of the grand slams with Laura and collect a lot of good points so that in the end Chantal and me will have a lot of points for next season. For me and Chantal it’s a chance to have a good start in the pre-Olympic season.”
Sude was Ludwig’s first choice. “She is a talented player. She has been playing on the World Tour for years already and is internationally experienced, she is a good blocker and she is playing right side”, Ludwig said.
“For sure I was going to ask her first. She is a pretty easy person, and for the small time period we have, we can fit really nice together, because we are both flexible and easy persons.”
For both players it’s important to play consistent and more importantly to collect World Tour points. There was not a lot of time to get to know each other though.
“We really didn’t have time to adjust”, Sude said. “Before Gstaad we had three training sessions. We have to learn about each other’s movements, how the other reacts in difficult situations. But it’s still the same game.”
Ludwig: “As individual players we know we are good. And when we stick together as a team and play a good consistent level we can win some games for sure. We definitely want to go get some good results, we are not here to just have fun or for holiday. For us both it’s good to get some points, but we will have to see game by game, week by week.”
Walkenhorst is on the mend
Meanwhile Walkenhorst has come to terms with her fate, Ludwig said. “It was hard mentally. She is really sad. It was a really, really hard decision for her to say: I need to take a break, instead of continuing the season with lots of pain. I think she is relieved she made this decision. She will do everything to be better in some months and be happy, that’s the most important.”
Ludwig and Sude are one of eight teams, four men’s and four women’s, to play at the Marktplein (Market Square) in Apeldoorn. After the pool phase the six best teams will travel back to The Hague for the elimination rounds, starting Friday.
The court is situated in the centre of the city, next to the city hall. Apeldoorn is a town in the eastern part of the Netherlands and has a population of nearly 160.000. It is the hometown of the well-known volleyball clubs Dynamo and Alterno. Apeldoorn will also be one of the four 2015 World Championships venues.
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