Impressive start for Doherty and Lucena in Berlin main draw
The 24th seeded Americans upset world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (21-16, 21-16) in the morning and defeated Berlin’s reigning champions Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves (15-21, 21-14, 15-13) in their second pool match.
“We had to play two really good teams today, the defending world champs and Vitor and Evandro who have been playing phenomenally this year”, Doherty said.
“So we knew we had to come out and play really good volleyball. My partner played great all day, which was a huge lift for me and we were able to get out with a couple of wins.”
The American qualifiers had to come back from behind in their match against Brazil. In the tiebreak Doherty and Lucena leapt away from 7-7 and had their first match point at 14-10. The Brazilians managed to come back to 13-14, but after a time-out Lucena came back to score the winning point.
Windy and swirling
Both teams were struggling with the windy conditions on Washingtonplatz, but the Americans coped better, using low passes and setting. “It was definitely windy and swirling”, said Doherty.
“So it was not necessarily one good side and one bad side. Thankfully we trained a lot in Florida, which has very similar conditions. We kind of tried to use that to our advantage and play that style of game and things worked out for us.”
After an impressive career in baseball - with 2.14 meters he was the tallest pitcher in minor league history - Doherty started playing beach volleyball in 2013 with the legendary Todd Rogers.
At the end of last season he teamed up with Lucena for the Sao Paulo Grand Slam, to finish 5th. This year they booked two 17th place finishes in Shanghai and Moscow.
Lucky to play with Lucena
“This is our first full year, we only played one event together last year. And so far it’s been great”, said Doherty. “We obviously have our ups and downs and our miscommunications, but he’s a phenomenal volleyball player and a really good guy and I feel very lucky to play with him.”
Doherty is excited to play in the German capital. “Berlin always puts on a good event, so I am really looking forward to see how well we can do. We want to play as long as we can and hopefully be standing on the podium at the end of the tournament.”