Student and master roll into Gstaad main draw
The US-pair beat the Qatari’s 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) in only their third FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour tournament together.
Rogers and Brunner have known each other for over a decade from their time together at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rogers, a former Olympic and FIVB Beach Volleyball world champion, was coaching there at the time and recruited Brunner, a player he believes has the potential to go far in beach volleyball.
“He’s young and got at least two or three more Olympics he could possibly go to,” Rogers said.
“I’ve known Theo quite a while, basically since he was 17, 18 years old and this is a case of I want to see him do well and push him to be the best player he can be and today he was pretty good.”
The pair’s win over the Qatari duo was a well-balanced performance between the dexterity of Rogers at the back of the court and Brunner’s presence at the net.
Rogers and Brunner made their debut as a pair on the NORCECA Tour in 2013 and immediately won gold at the San Diego competition. Since then they have played at the 2013 Xiamen Open and 2014 Puerto Vallarta Open on the World Tour and added a second NORCECA gold at the Cayman Islands’ tournament.
“I’m trying to absorb everything I can from him and watch the way he plays and takes care of himself and trains and learn as much as I can,” Brunner said.
“I haven’t been blocking that well recently, so I was focusing on my blocking and that worked out really well. I was a little bit shaky on some of the sets and we could have had a bigger spread if I’d set them a little bit better, but we’ve got the winner and are into the main tournament.”
Double the fun as Ingrosso twins advance
Italian twins Paolo and Matteo Ingrosso were another of the eight teams to make it through to pool play, though unlike Rogers and Brunner they were required to play two matches to progress.
First they saw off Swiss brothers Andreas and Roman Sutter and then fought back to defeat Norway’s Iver Andreas Horrem and Geir Eithun 2-1 (18-21, 21-16, 15-11).
“They were two fairly two tough matches,” Paolo Ingrosso said. “The first we played pretty well even though we didn’t know our opponents and we had to take a bit of time to see how they play and adjust our style.
“The second was very tough; they are a good team, play well, make few mistakes and we had to have a very good match to win.”
The brothers are already off the mark for the 2014 season having won the silver medal at the Puerto Vallarta Open in Mexico.
In the last few Grand Slams though they have been unable to make it through qualifying, but are now into their first Grand Slam pool play since the Shanghai Grand Slam.
“You definitely play in a different way in qualifying,” Paolo Ingrosso added. “They are hard matches to play because it is straight elimination and the tension and the nervous energy is different and you have to stay calm and collected.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Gstaad Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, July 9 until Sunday July 13 when the men’s and women’s medal matches take place. It is the ninth event and the fifth Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Transavia Hague Grand Slam which runs from July 15-20.