After Chinese sensation Huber/Seidl long for success at home
But how did it happen? “That’s difficult to explain,” the 27-year-old Alexander Huber says. “I have to admit that our preparation for this season ran extremely well. Throughout the winter break we could adjust something in our play and we could test this out already in early April as we joined the CEV Satellite tournament in Antalya. These changes were then re-adjusted once more as we travelled to Fuzhou for the first FIVB tournament of the year. All this did certainly help us and though we had to take some risks by modifying our routine and tactics, it certainly paid off.”
Huber and Seidl are somehow used to catching a flying start into the season: “We have always started out strong and last year we claimed our best result on the World Tour by finishing 13th at the opening tournament in Brasilia,” Huber stresses. “This year we could eventually continue and improve on that positive trend.”
Though they suffered a couple of defeats in pool play after passing through qualifying, the 28th seeds did not lose composure and swept all of their next games all the way to the semis. On their way to the top four they could even edge two pairs that had imposed their rule in the past editions of the FIVB World Tour. “After beating a beach volleyball legend like Todd Rogers, we got the feeling that everything was within our reach. And after we cruised past Ricardo in the next round, we got rid of all remaining inhibitions,” Huber points out.
Huber and Seidl were not causing a sensation for the first time in their career as they had done so last year in Klagenfurt where the Austrians delighted their home fans and were the only one to edge Dutchmen Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil, the players who finished atop of the charts in the tournament and then settled for fourth at the 2012 London Olympics.
Though they could claim a series of positive results, still the past season was marked by ups and downs. “Our dream was to make it to the Olympics in London but this was not possible via the World Ranking List. The only option still available for playing there was provided by the Continental Cup. We could grab that much desired ticket in Moscow where we joined forces with Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst in the final stage of the Continental Cup. However, they were eventually nominated by our Federation for the Olympic team and we were evidently very upset. We discussed this issue quite thoroughly but we could not dissipate our doubts and decide whether we wanted to continue or not,” Huber reveals.
These discussions came to a close by accepting a proposal worked out by Seidl whereby the two would have gone separate ways in their preparation for the next season up to December. “This break did result into a better understanding between us. We are lucky to have Alexander’s brother, Hans, at our side, who knows our strengths and weaknesses right since the early days of our competitive career. We have also found a coach, Australia’s Tristan Boyd, who we get along with extremely well,” Seidl says. The major reward for that was the third place they could claim on Saturday in China. However, they still want to achieve more this year especially as the European Championship will be taking place in the neighbourhood they originally hail from, Klagenfurt. “This will be the real highlight of the 2013 season for us. I just can’t describe and imagine how it would feel to win a medal in front of 10,000 home fans,” Huber singles out by disclosing his dreams of home glory. Actually he already knows how it feels, for in 2006 he teamed up with Felix Bläuel to seize gold at the U23 European Championship in St. Pölten.
While Huber stems from a volleyball family, Seidl came to beach volleyball through a series of coincidences. His father is a special education teacher who takes care of pupils and children who aren’t fluent in German and is also a tennis coach in Velden. His mum, on the other hand, comes from the Netherlands and that explains why Seidl was given the nickname “The Flying Dutchman” by his friends. His two sisters have been playing volleyball for many years starring in Austria’s and Germany’s first divisions with Louise having carried the hopes of SVS Post SCHWECHAT even in Europe’s elite competition, the CEV Volleyball Champions League. However, before he eventually opted for volleyball, Seidl played tennis, ice hockey, table tennis and even tried out ski jumping for a while. He finally went for his current sport by the time he was 14 and rapidly developed into a very promising player who teamed up with Alexander “Xandi” Huber in Klagenfurt. They even were close to making the national volleyball team but ultimately switched to beach volleyball. It did not take that long for Seidl to celebrate his first success on sand. On what was only his second season he won the U20 national champs and national coach Stefan Hömberg decided to call him to join the so-called Team Austria Beach Volleyball (TABV), a group that since 2002 included also the likes of Huber.
Starting from there he moved up through all age groups and together with the sister pair Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger may be seen as the best “product” stemming from the beach volleyball development program implemented by the Austrian Volleyball Federation.
Huber and Seidl’s best results since the start of their partnership:
13th place – FIVB Open in Brasilia (BRA) 2012
17th place – FIVB Grand Slam in Klagenfurt (AUT) 2011 and 2012
17th place – FIVB Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki (POL) in 2012
2nd place – CEV Satellite in Baden (AUT) and in Lausanne (SUI) in 2011
3rd place – CEV Challenger in Varna (BUL) in 2011
3rd place – CEV Satellite in Baden (AUT) in 2012
4th place – CEV Masters in Novi Sad (SRB) in 2011 and 2012
3rd place – FIVB Open in Fuzhou (CHN) in 2013