Miracles happen in sports, just like in life, when you least expect them. This sentence could mark the highlights of the Doha Open after the last ball was hit in Qatar on Saturday. Two 23-year old German rookies made it all the way through the Main Draw to set a dream start of their promising beach volleyball careers.
Just to be technically correct, we should mention that Tim Holler and Jonas Schroder already took part in the season opener in Fuzhou, China, but there they failed at the last qualification step prior to the main competition, losing in straight sets against the Canadians Binstock-Schachter. And to make this week’s story just a tiny bit more enchanting, destiny decided that Holler-Schroder will win their debut Main Draw tournament in a final versus… Binstock-Schachter.
Tim Holler’s net actions combined with Jonas Schroder’s agile defence skills gave Germany a straight-set win (21-18, 21-13) for its first World Tour gold in 2014. In fact, it was only the second pair of medals this year for the country with reigning men’s Olympic champions after their current best team Erdmann-Matysik won bronze at the Shanghai Grand Slam. Canadians Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter continued their good run and appeared on another final after the triumph in Parana, Argentina. They might’ve acquiesced to silver in Doha, but they are surely enjoying the form of their lives by making three World Tour semifinals in as many months.
The ecstatic Tim Holler could not say much after the unbelievable tournament finish: “We didn’t expect anything. This is just incredible, to be on the World Tour and win a gold medal. Just give me a second because I just can’t believe it.”
The bronze medals in Qatar were grabbed by familiar faces. Youssef Krou and Edouard Rowlandson, winners of the Xiamen Open, the record-breaking third event for the year in China, prevailed in two sets (21-15, 21-15) over Russia’s Bykanov-Prokopiev. The Frenchmen were in total control of the match and finished a great week in an impressive fashion despite their only defeat in Doha on Saturday morning versus the future champions.
Sergey Prokopiev could not beat his best World Tour finish. In 2009 he and his usual partner Yuri Bogatov lost the bronze medals in Sanya, China. Now again he missed the medals with his new partner Ruslan Bykanov. Bykanov-Prokopiev, both medal winners from junior and youth international tournaments, entered their first tournament as a team.
The Mangaung Open in South Africa in the middle of December will be the last event for 2014. Following changes during the course of the World Tour, the FIVB dropped the initially scheduled Opens in Chennai, India, and St. Denis de la Reunion, France. Thus, after arriving in Qatar for the first time in its long history, the Tour will only head to South Africa for the season closure.