Canada’s Humana-Paredes/Pischke: from podium to qualification in Myslowice
The first seeded Canadian girls defeated USA’s Kelley Larsen and Betsi Metter 2-0 (21-11, 21-18) in qualification on Tuesday and moved up to main draw of the age-group event in Myslowice.
“This is our first qualifier match ever at a youth tournament”, Humana-Paredes said. “There is quite a bit of pressure on us and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win and make it to main draw. Overcoming that was a big steppingstone for us. A big sigh of relieve.”
The reason that the 2013 bronze medallists were not in main draw in the first place is simple. Humana-Paredes: “In Canada we do this tournament system, so whoever wins is Canada 1 and whoever comes second is Canada 2 and they got a berth coming here. And we were not able to play at the trials in January.”
“But a couple of weeks ago we saw that there were some open spots in the qualifier and we called in to see if we were able to get in. And they said: yes, but you have to be in the qualifier. So we said: we will take it.”
Since last year the 21-year olds also debuted on the World Tour, resulting in 17th place at the Long Beach Grand Slam and 9th at the Puerto Vallarta Open.
So this year the U23 will be different, said Humana-Paredes. “Because now we have this target on our back. Everyone is playing their best game against us, they want to beat us. We have to play our top game all the time and there are some strong teams. It’s the best in the world under 23. We have seen a couple of familiar faces, so we know it’s going to be strong, but we are really excited to play and that is why we came here.”
In their qualification match against USA they still lacked a bit of consistency though. After an easy first set, USA came back to one point in the second. In the end Humana-Paredes secured main draw with a dink down the line on their first match point.
“We kind of let go a little bit in the middle, towards the end of the second set”, she said. “I don’t think we were fatigued, that is just a mind set. We have to keep focussed and keep strong and aggressive throughout the whole match. Even if we did win by a large amount in the first set, you cannot let that get to you. You have to be your best all the time. I think we let loose a little bit, that can happen, but it won’t happen again.”
U19 bronze medallist
Also starting in qualification was 19-year old Sara Hughes, the bronze medallist at the U19 World Championships in Porto last year. In Myslowice she was not playing with her Porto-partner Kelly Claes, but with debutant Kellie Woolever (22).
After a bye in the first round they booked a solid 2-0 (21-10, 21-17) over Trans/Guldager from Denmark. Woolever: “This is my first ever beach event. I had played beach since I was a little kid, but I switched to indoor for college and once I got the sand programme going in college I kind of fell in love all over again.”
Changing partners meant also changing position for Hughes, who was playing defence with Claes. “With Kellie, we split blocking at first, because we were both primarily defenders, but I had blocked previous with my first partner, so we decided that maybe it would be more beneficiary for me to block. So we made this transition of me being a full time blocker and I think it’s working out fine for us. This is only our second tournament together and we are finally getting our rhythm.”
Hughes continued: “We came here to win. Our first goal was to get out of the qualifier. Were not going to give up, we are going for the gold.” Woolever: “And we are a 100 percent so far.”
The other two teams that advanced to main draw are Russia’s 4th seeded Dyachuk/Zayonchkovskaya and Germany’s 2nd seeded Krebs/Weiland. Main draw pool play, with 6 pools with 6 teams each, will start on Wednesday.