Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti takes on a whole different role and starts from zero again
The 28-year old Greek player had to start from scratch this year after her long-time partner Maria Tsiartsiani stopped playing to have surgery on her shoulder and in the mean time fell pregnant. Arvaniti started looking for a new partner and found one in the indoor competition, 20-year old Panagiota ‘Penny’ Karagkouni.
Arvaniti, who had always been the junior player, had to take on a whole different role. She became the mentor and the older ‘sister’, but the most difficult thing was that she had to start from zero again. “I play against teams here I beat before but now I am losing all the time. But I knew it was going to be like that, so I am not disappointed. I have to be realistic.”
Different job and older sister
“It also motivates me to have something new and try to help her, because now I am the oldest one in the team and it’s a new challenge for me. I have a different job now. Everything is new for her, because she is still very young. She is like a kid and I have to lead her, in and outside the court. I am like an older sister now.”
She chose Karagkouni because of her ball control and technical skills. “She is all-round and played on many different positions indoor, her receiving and setting is very good.” They only started training together two months ago, the Grand Slam in The Hague was their first event.
“She is still adapting to the sand, because the approach and the hitting are very different. And we want to have more options for the side-out for her. This is the goal for the moment. She is a very controlled player, so that’s good, but she needs to improve the speed and the explosiveness.”
Early debut for Karagkouni
Her debut at the World Championships came very early and maybe even too early for Karagkouni. “She has to play directly at the highest level. She is very young but I think she can be a great player in the future, but she needs to practice a lot. I think next year we will have a good picture of the potential of this team. This year is to try and to gain experience.”
They finished 25th both in The Hague and Rome and the goal in Stare Jablonki is to get past pool play again. With two defeats against Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti and Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Büthe Thailand is their main focus in the pool. If they win, there is a chance they will get trough as one of the eight best pool thirds.
“Teams like Thailand, that are a little bit below us in level, these are the games we want to win. That has been our focus from the beginning because Italy and Germany are too good for us at the moment. It will be difficult with the score, it has to be good because only eight out of twelve make it. First we have to win and then let’s see what happens.”
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