Swiss Tour ready to inspire next generation of home favourites
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 5, 2017 – Switzerland’s growth as a beach volleyball nation is a success story rooted in a leap of faith in 1992, but has grown to include a national tour that features seven packed-out tournaments, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour success and even a taste of Olympic glory.
When local promoters suggested hosting a tournament on the banks of Lake Lucerne there was initial scepticism that the sport would take off in the land-locked country, now they are looking forward to the latest edition of the Swiss Tour that takes place in the heart of Zurich and runs from April 6-9.
Since the early days the sport has bloomed in the Alpine nation to the extent that Lucerne will host this year’s FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championships from May 23-28, while Gstaad continues its status as one of the most popular stops on the World Tour with the Major Series event from July 4-9.
Underpinning the Swiss success story is the National Training Centre in Bern that was set up after their teams were unable to build on the success of Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel, who won bronze at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and something that Philippe Saxer, director of beach volleyball at Swiss Volley considers “a major step in our history.”
Leading the country’s current hopes for the future are the relatively new pairing of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich, both of who are aged 25.
Last year both players featured at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, albeit with different partners. Heidrich reached the quarterfinals with Nadine Zumkehr and held three match balls against eventual bronze medallists April Ross and Kerri Walsh-Jennings before being eliminated.
Verge-Depre also made it to the elimination rounds where she and Isabelle Forrer were knocked out by eventual winners Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany. With Zumkehr and Forrer retiring at the end of 2016 the powers that be had no hesitation in pairing Verge-Depre with Heidrich.
The women’s Rio 2016 success means that they receive a six-figure grant from the Swiss Olympic Federation, while the men’s programme receives significantly less after they failed to send any teams to Rio 2016.
“It's a minimum,” Saxer says of the funding, “and we ensure that we spend it wisely.”
Quick links - Beach volleyball:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2017
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach Volleyball
FIVB.com - Beach Volleyball
Verge-Depre and Heidrich will be in action in Zurich and there are hopes that it will provide the first step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“We must be patient,” Saxer said. “You need experience, that is why we are planning our teams for the long term.”
For more information on the Swiss Beach Volleyball Tour, click here.