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Laboureur and Sude face uphill battle

Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude at the Puerto Vallarta Open

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 20, 2014 - Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude are starting to make a name for themselves on the international beach volleyball scene as the German women’s pair has placed second, ninth and fourth in their last three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events together.

However, Laboureur and Sude are having trouble gaining entry into every FIVB event as they are currently ranked as the No. 5 German team on the World Tour ranking list with only the top four teams from each country gaining admission for each event, especially the Grand Slam stops.

Laboureur and Sude ended the 2013 FIVB season by netting a silver medal at the World Tour stop in South Africa where the German pair dropped title match to the top-ranked Chinese pair of Xue Chen and Xia Xinyi 2-0 (21-18, 21-18). 
Laboureur and Sude had also lost to Xia and Xue in the Durban pool play.

After qualifying for the Main Draw in the 2014 FIVB World Tour season opener in China, Laboureur and Sude won their pool in Fuzhou highlighted by a 2-1 (22-20, 18-21, 25-23) win over Brazil’s Taiana Lima and Talita Rocha, the second-ranked team on the FIVB entry list.

After placing ninth in Fuzhou, Laboureur and Sude placed fourth in Mexico where the Germans again won their pool before dropping medal round matches to Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta Silva and Xue/X.Y. Xia.

“We are pleased with our play to date,” said the 24-year-old Laboureur, who captured the 2008 FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships with Levke Spinger.
  “Our goals for 2014 is to win domestic events in Germany, to be on the podium for European tournaments and top 10 finishes on the FIVB World Tour. We have accomplished the top 10 FIVB finishes, so we are excited about our chances this season.”

When asked about her team’s future and a bid for a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Laboureur just shakes her head.

“We don’t know,” Laboureur stated.
 “With the new rule changes with no country quota matches at FIVB World Tour events, it makes it very difficult for us as a German team to get in all tournaments.”

With nine German pairs ranked among the top 63 existing FIVB World Tour pairs when reviewing a team’s entry points for the international events, Laboureur and Sude currently rank fifth among their country’s teams and 40 points (2,080 to 2,040) behind Victoria Bieneck and Julia Grossner.

Both German pairs posted impressive showings during the first full week of May. 
After Bieneck and Grossner captured a gold medal at a confederation satellite event in Turkey to earn 280 points, Laboureur and Sude netted 350 points for placing fourth at a FIVB World Tour stop in Puerto Vallarta.

With the elimination of Country Quota playoffs at the sites of FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam and World Tour events, the German competition for women is the most competitive.
  Not counting “wild card” placements, the most entries in any one event for a country is four teams.

Without the on-site Country Quota playoff matches, the fourth team entry for a country into an FIVB World Tour event is based on combined points earned by each individual at FIVB recognized/sanctioned events.
  An individual’s entry point are FIVB ranking points earned in the best six of their last eight events among all FIVB recognized/sanctioned events.

For the next FIVB World Tour stop in the Czech Republic on May 21 to 25, the German pairs of Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler and Karla Borger/Britta Büthe have been placed in the Prague Main Draw with Bieneck and Grossner in the qualifier and Laboureur and Sude on the event’s reserve list.

The following week in Anapa, Russia, from May 27 to June 1, the top three German teams have not entered with Laboureur and Sude expected to be placed in the Main Draw along with Bieneck and Grossner.

“It will be an interesting summer,” said the 26-year-old Sude, the daughter of Burkhard Sude, a German volleyball legend.
 “The pressure is on us to perform well in each tournament.  We are excited about our play to date. With the Berlin Grand Slam coming up in June, we hope to get a wild card for the event.  If we perform well there along with posting a good result at the European Championships in Cagliari (Italy), if we get a wild card, we could make up some ground on Bieneck and Grossner.  It will not be easy, but we have the opportunity to help our quest of being one of the top four German teams at the end of the season.”

At the Puerto Vallarta Open, Laboureur and Sude took time to answer questions about the 2014 season.

Pre-season training? Where, when and with any other teams? Do you have a coach?

“Due to a very warm winter in Germany, we were able to practice outdoors in the middle of February.  We trained in Athens with teams from Greece and Finland before a training camp at the end of the month in Tenerife with pairs from our country along with teams from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Switzerland.  We have coaches while in Germany, but they are not travelling to the international events.”

Q2: What are your individual strengths and what do you need to improve on

“My individual strength is that I´m very athletic, well organized and always have a goal in mind! I need to improve my patience as I´m often very impatient."

“Since I am 1.85m, I try to use my height to my advantage in blocking and attacking. There are no special things to improve.  It is all about keeping the level and take care of my body."

Q3: What are your team's strengths and what areas of your team's game needs improvement?

“Our team´s strength is that we both have a hard hit and we complement one another very well. We need improvement in playing on a high level during the whole tournament.”

Q4: What was the process in forming your team? T
houghts on playing with your partner?

“Since we were both looking for a new partner and we come from the same hometown, we thought it was natural to become team-mates since we complement each other.”

Q5: When, where, why and how did you become a beach volleyball player?

“I became a beach volleyball player in 2007. I was a member of youth national indoor team when I had a ruptured ligament in my ankle and couldn´t play in the European youth championships. My coach asked the beach volleyball coach if I could join the other players during their training sessions and I had some good practices. I did very well and was nominated for the European U18 Beach Volleyball Championship and won the tournament with Levke Springer. The next year, we won the FIVB Youth World Championship and I decided to continue with beach volleyball.”

“I have been playing volleyball ever since I was able to walk. I started being interested in beach volleyball when I saw the national teams preparing for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games with my dad (Burkhard) as their coach. I started playing in the 2003 European Youth Championship followed by the FIVB Youth World Championship event in 2004. After graduating in 2007, I became a professional athlete and started playing fulltime.

Q6: When not practicing and playing, what do you do with your time?

“In the winter, I go to university. If not practicing or playing, I just relax.”

Q7: What has been your greatest experience and/or accomplishments in beach volleyball?

“Winning the FIVB Youth World Championship in 2008, and topping the podium for the European Youth Championship in 2007 and the U23 title (with Kira Walkenhorst) in 2012. Julia and I also captured the bronze medal at the World University Games last summer in Kazan, Russia.”

“Winning the German Championship in 2010 with Jana Kohler was very emotional. The bronze medal in Kazan at the World University game was special along with our first FIVB World Tour medal last December in South Africa with a second place finish at Durban.”

Any disappointments?

“As for every athlete, being injured is very disappointing. Some years ago I had a rupture in my left meniscus, three month later in my right meniscus.  And one year later I ruptured an abdominal muscles.”

“As Chantal said, every injury is hard for an athlete. Luckily, I haven’t had any really bad injuries. But as I get older, I can feel the wear and tear from every season."

Q9: How do you rank on your domestic tour? Have you ever earned a podium berth in your country's national championship for beach volleyball?

“At the moment, we rank fourth domestically. We placed fourth at our national championship last year after winning a national tour stop in Mannheim and St. Peter-Ording.”

Q10: How do you rank on the European tour?
 Any podium placements together on the confederation tour?

“I don’t know about our current ranking on the European tour. We won a CEV satellite event earlier this year in Anapa along with some Zonal events in Montpellier, France and Rottenburg, Germany.”

Q11: Germany is scheduled to host an FIVB Grand Slam event next month in Berlin.  How excited are you about Germany hosting a world tour stop for the third-straight season? Any memorable moments in playing in Berlin?

“Nice question. Right now, we are not scheduled to play in Berlin, because there are other German teams ahead of us. But, if we do well in Mexico, we`ll maybe get a wild card from our federation for this tournament. We will see. I had great memorable moments in Berlin last year. I played with a different partner (Cinja Tillmann for one tournament), we were both defense players. We won the country quota and qualification and had some great wins in main draw as well.”

 Is there a history of playing beach volleyball and/or volleyball in the family?

 “My mum plays volleyball, but it´s just hobby volleyball. She was my first coach when I started playing volleyball.”

 “My mum played Volleyball on regional level. My dad was named German men’s volleyball player of the year five times from 1980 to 1984 and played on our national team for many years in 203 matches. He has been nicknamed Mr. Volleyball.  He also played indoor volleyball as a professional in France and Italy. In addition to coaching the Olympic teams in Atlanta, he was the coach for Jorg Ahmann and Axel Hager when they captured the bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. My Dad started playing beach volleyball before there was a World Tour.  He also played on the FIVB World Tour from 1991 to 1999, when he was in his 30s.  My brother Jakob is also an accomplished tennis player.”

Q13: If you are not playing beach volleyball, what do you do with your spare time?
  Do have a professional career or occupation?

“When I am at home, I attend classes at my university as much as I can. If there is a little time left, I try to spend it with my family, boyfriend and friends"

Q14: Any nicknames? Any other interesting items about your Beach Volleyball career?  Do you have any beach volleyball heroes?

“I have different nicknames, but all similar like Chanti, Shantel - it depends if I´m in the university, practicing with my partner, being at home."

- “Almost everyone calls me Juli. There are a lot of heroes still playing.  You can learn from everyone a little and try to use it for your play, your team and your career."


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