World Grand Prix Finals coaches looking forward to facing the best
“There’s nothing better than to face the best across the net,” he said. “And our team is very pleased to earn the right to face the best teams, the best athletes and the best coaches. We’re going to lose plenty of points this week and we’re going to try hard to win some, too, and it will be a great experience for us.”
Jose Roberto Guimaraes, the coach of Brazil who have finished runners-up to USA for the last three years, agreed with his American counterpart: “I’m very glad to be here again. It’s my second time in Sapporo with my team and my team is in good shape at the moment. We know this is a very important tournament and we’ll have five tough matches. It’s important to play against these top teams, to learn and to improve for the future. We have seven Olympic champions here but the other players are young. It’s a transition time for our team, but that’s normal. I think everybody is in the same situation, so it’s important to gain experience for the team and to play hard matches against the best teams in the world.”
China was the only team to finish the Preliminary Round undefeated but coach Lang Ping also pointed out that she has a young squad: “I’m very happy to make the Finals. This year, we have some young players and this is a great opportunity to meet great teams – especially the top three teams from last year’s Olympic Games – to get experience and develop teamwork. We’re looking forward to this opportunity; we hope to have some great performances and play well.”
Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe is hoping young setter Haruka Miyashita, who will turn 19 on the final day of the tournament, will blossom in the Finals: “Miyashita is 18 and very young, so I hope she will learn a lot from this tournament playing against strong teams. We have a young team so I’m happy to be able to compete against five top world teams.”
Serbia finished the Preliminary Round in third place, level on points with Brazil, but coach Zoran Terzic pointed out that his team has another major competition after the Finals: “We are happy and proud to play in the Final Round of the World Grand Prix and we will try to do our best. I think the Serbia team is in good shape but we also have another important tournament right after this one with the European Championship and we need to think about this, too.”
Italy finished fifth in the qualifiers, one place above Japan, and coach Marco Mencarelli said he felt a little emotional to be in Sapporo for the Finals.
“I am honoured to be part of the Finals,” he said. “My team is young and we’re very happy to be here in the final six to play in Sapporo. Our target is to gain experience. Each time my players go into a game, I think they will gain experience. We’re in our best shape so we want to do our best and make history.”
The Finals will start at 13:30 local time (04:30 GMT) on Wednesday when Serbia take on China. That match will be followed by a clash between last year’s Olympic finalists, Brazil and USA, with Japan facing Italy in the final match of the day.
2013 World Grand Prix Tournament page