FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Vitoria Open 2016 | 15 - 20 mars 2016


Press release

Rivals now coaching together

Coach Markus Egger (left) works with Nico Beeler before a Vitória Open qualifying match Tuesday morning against Qatar. Beeler and Alexei Strasser defeated a team from Qatar in three sets to advance to an afternoon match against Argentina.

Vitória, Brazil, March 15, 2016 - During the mid-2000s, two of the top players competing on the FIVB World Tour were Christoph Dieckmann of Germany and Markus Egger of Switzerland.

Now, after playing each other eight times on the FIVB World Tour and four times on the European Tour, the two retired beach volleyball players are coaching together for Switzerland with Egger coaching the men and Dieckmann the women as the land-locked European country continues to develop Olympic quality athletes.

Quick links
•    Vitória Open website
•    Qualification - Men
•    Qualification - Women
•    Main draw - Men
•    Main draw - Women

“I am just there as a consultant,” said the 40-year old Dieckmann, who is with the Swiss men’s and women’s team at this week’s Vitória Open on Camburi beach. “Sebastian (Beck) and Florian (Karl) are the two head coaches for the women. I work with them at the Swiss training center in Bern and travel to certain events to help with their preparation along with debriefs after matches.”

Switzerland's Markus Egger dives for the ball at the Easy Living Italian Open in Roseto degli Abruzzi in 2006

The 41-year old Egger said that Dieckmann’s present also helps the men. “He was one of the great blockers on the World Tour,” said Egger, who was one of the top defenders. “His knowledge about playing at the net is invaluable. He is a tremendous asset for our programme.” 

Dieckmann has been involved with the Swiss women for four years. Right now, the pairs of Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr are No. 10 and No. 14, respectively, on the Rio 2016 provisional Olympic ranking list. Fifteen non-Brazilian pairs will earn berths to join the hosts for August’s (6-10) Summer Games competition on Copacabana.

Egger is tutoring Nico Beeler/Alexei Strasser and Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson on the FIVB World Tour. The best bet for Switzerland is to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via the European Continental Cup event June 22-26 in Norway (Stavanger) or the FIVB Continental Cup Finals in Russia (Sochi, July 6-10).

For Dieckmann, it is an easy switch to coaching women as he is married to Maria Tsiartsiani, a two-time Greek Olympian in 2008 and 2012 with Vasiliki Arvaniti. Dieckmann was also a two-time Olympian for Germany in 2004 and 2008 and was forced to retire from the sport in May 2009 due to knee problems. Dieckmann finished his FIVB career with 110 participations with five gold medals, 13 podium placements and 21 final four finishes.

Egger never made it to the Olympics, especially for the Athens 2004 Summer Games as he and Sascha Heyer ranked among the top 10 teams on the FIVB World Tour during the qualifying period. But the Swiss had two higher ranked teams in the Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) and Patrick Heuscher/Stefan Kobel.

With Heyer announcing for Swiss TV in Athens and Egger watching at home and learning how to play golf, Heuscher/Kobel netted the bronze medal at the Greek Olympics with the Lacigas placing fifth. The Swiss brothers were eliminated by eventual gold medal winners Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil in two sets.

“I had to do something other than sitting at home,” said Egger. “It was a disappointment that we were ranked very high, but could not post better results than the other two Swiss teams in 2004. For the record, the Lacigas had a 6-1 record against Egger and Heyer on the FIVB World Tour while Heuscher and Kobel defeated their rivals eight straight times without a setback. The Lacigas held a 5-4 edge over Heuscher and Kobel on the FIVB circuit.

Egger was on track to qualify for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with Martin Laciga, but knee problems forced his early retirement from the sport in August 2006. Highlighted by five final four finishes and a gold medal, Egger and Martin Laciga were the fourth-ranked team on the 2015 FIVB World Tour behind three Brazilian pairs.

The 2006 season started well for Egger as he and Martin Laciga won two European events in May (Turkey) and June (Russia), but his knee injury at the Austrian Grand Slam at the start of August in Klagenfurt was the beginning of the end for the Swiss player. Egger forfeited his final two matches in Klagenfurt after he and Martin Laciga dropped a three-set match to Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States in the first round of pool play.

Egger attempted a comeback in 2007 with Martin Laciga at a European tour event in Austria (St. Pölten) in mid-May. The pair placed fifth as Egger’s last recorded competitive match was a two-set quarterfinal setback to Dieckmann and Julius Brink.  

“I vaguely remember the match against Christoph and Julius in St. Pölten,” said Egger, who competed in 97 FIVB World Tour events for Switzerland with nine final four finishes, eight podium placements and one gold medal. “Martin and I won our first two matches and I couldn’t jump. Our next two opponents (Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil of the Netherlands and Brink/Dieckmann) figured that out quickly and we were easily defeated to place fifth. That was it for me. My left knee was a mess and I retired immediately.”

Christoph Dieckmann of Germany celebrates at the Henkel Grand Chelem in Paris in 2007

But no retirement from the sport for Dieckmann and Egger as they have combined their experiences of playing at an elite level to help work with the new generation of beach volleyball players. “It is enjoyable,” said Dieckmann. “The women have been great to work with and consulting with the Swiss coaches has been great. Despite leaving the sport due to injuries, both Markus and I can still make a contribution as we both enjoy traveling the world coaching beach volleyball.”

Following the Vitória Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a two-week break before resuming action April 4-8 for the men’s-only event in Doha, Qatar. Before returning to Brazil for the Fortaleza Open at the end of April, two double-gender events will be staged in China at Xiamen (April 12-17) and Fuzhou (April 19-24).

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