Mexico’s Santoyo and Lopez overcome jetlag and book first win at U23
The 19-year old Santoyo and 21-year old Lopez had to overcome a seven-hour time difference and the fact that they really did not know each other. Both girls played in Youth and Junior World Championships before, but with different partners.
Santoyo’s best result was 9th place at the Youth World Championships in Larnaka in 2012 and Lopez finished 9th at the Youth World Championships in Umag in 2011. They are both on the national team, but had not played together yet. Their only preparation for the U23 was one event on the national tour.
“We are of different age and live in different cities”, said Santoyo. “But if feels good together, we just had a short time of getting a rhythm together, but we are getting there.”
Their U23 debut was not what they had expected, losing to Australia’s Laird/Artacho (21-11, 21-12) and Germany’s Krebs/Weiland (21-17 21-7) on the opening day. The Mexican girls had trouble getting the jetlag out of their system, Santoyo said. “We felt like we were out of rhythm and we were tired, but today it was much better.”
In their first match on Thursday they defeated the 26th seeded Latvian team Marta Ozolina and Ruta Treija 2-0 (21-16, 21-16). Santoyo, who is the 1.75-meter tall blocker, and Lopez played energetic, with lots of serving pressure and smart play, cutting the ball around the Latvian block.
Santoyo: “We are very happy that we were able to win this match. We could focus way better than yesterday. This was a good team, but we were able to stay focussed and deliver when we needed it the most. Now we will concentrate on winning another one, so we can get out of the pool.”
Santoyo and Lopez, who entered main draw as the 36th seeds without any points, are impressed with the other teams at the U23 championships. “The level is very good, the other teams are more experienced because they have played more international matches than us.”
The girls had the chance to compete internationally earlier this year since Mexico hosted a FIVB World Tour Open in Puerto Vallarta, but Santoyo and Lopez did not play. “We had a championship for universities and there was a lot at stake, the World University Championships in Portugal. So we both played there for our university.” Unfortunately neither of the girls got in.
In Myslowice they hope to accumulate some more points. “Our goal is getting out of the pool, than we will do the best we can”, said Santoyo. “And if we reach the semifinals that would be awesome.”