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2017-02-05 17:59:00 CET

Love at first spike

#FTLMajor wildcards and new American partnership Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner explain their new partnership ahead of the 2017 season

Casey celebrates during the Gstaad Major last year. Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter.Casey celebrates during the Gstaad Major last year. Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter.

When you listen to Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner talk about their new partnership you could quite easily think you were slap-bang in the middle of a beach volleyball romantic comedy.

One of three new men’s U.S. teams set to attack the sand at the Fort Lauderdale Major, Casey and Theo are pretty excited to be together. So much so, their targets include reaching the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

“Theo’s such a cool, smart, intelligent, athletic dude,” gushes Casey. “It’s going to be great and I couldn’t be happier I’m with him,” says Theo.

The pair hooked up after Casey split with Jake Gibb following Patterson’s move away from Huntingdon Beach in California this winter. The new pairing are now one of the chosen wildcards for the Fort Lauderdale Major.

“We had a good four years and perhaps now was the time for new young guys to reignite the fire inside the both of us,” explains Casey. “After Jake told me he and Taylor Crabb were playing together I was on the hunt. Theo came up for a bit of a practice to see if there was any chemistry and there was.

“He told me he wanted to work really hard to get to the top and improve his game and I thought ‘yeah this guy really wants it’ and that was good enough for me.”

Theo, meanwhile – who has previously paired up with beach legends Todd Rogers and Nick Lucena in the past – revealed playing with Casey was always at the back of his mind.

“I thought we’d be good together but we never really had the chance to do it,” says the 31-year-old. “When we were out on the road we never really hung out, but in the summer, after all the switches, it became clear that we could be an option together.”

Theo's last international medal came in Florida in 2015. Photocredit: Samo Vidic.Theo's last international medal came in Florida in 2015. Photocredit: Samo Vidic.

Given Casey’s reputation for being one of the most passionate on the World Tour and with Theo known as one of the quieter players, how much of a factor was each other’s character when making the decision to join forces?

“We never really talked about our personalities when it came to making the team,” says Theo. Casey’s the guy when you play against him you don’t like him so much. He’s in your face and he’s loud. But when you’re with him on the other side of the sand and training and playing with him it’s great. We’ve had a great couple of months training and I can’t wait to get started.

“It’s only difficult playing against him if he’s beating you and screaming. But he’s fun to beat in that way. But I appreciate his charisma on court. He’s a player that the fans can love or hate but mostly love. He’s a player the fans want to watch. I’m more of a quieter guy so I think I having a teammate who is more fiery is a good thing – so I think it’s a nice balance.”

Casey agrees.

“Theo’s got a really good sense of humor,” he says. “It’s like dating 101. It’s funny how much that plays a part. Interacting with one another and having a positive energy. He’s very similar to me but just quieter, I guess. I think that blend, with me being a bit fiery and him being a little quieter, is a good thing.”

So will Theo’s calming influence mean fans will see a more chilled Casey on court?

“I don’t think I’ll change! I love the fire,” Patterson laughs. “Perhaps I will channel it differently now. Maybe I’ll be on a bit more of an even keel and concentrate a bit better in the moment.

“When I’m playing well I’m creative, I’m passionate. It’s like when you know you’ve got to hit the dancefloor. You just know the point when you’ve got to go out and dance. If I need to moonwalk, I’ll moonwalk – but you’ve got to wait for the right song. Being fine-tuned is important but you can’t be over the top all the time – you need to use the positive energy in the right way and that’s really important in beach volleyball.”

Casey Patterson on Twitter

My thought process on a new partner-"Who blocks me more than anyone else?.... @lordbrunner".Excited to play defense behind this beast. https://t.co/IJ1W5OXoze

Theo will embark on his fourth season on the international tour in search of his first gold medal. However, his last FIVB medal came in Florida back in 2015 when Nick Lucena won bronze at the St Petersburg Grand Slam. A tournament won by…yep, you guessed it: Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson.

“I have a bunch of family coming to the tournament and the last time I played here me and Nick came third so I’m hoping it’s a good state for us,” says Brunner.

“Being a wildcard is a blessing and we’ll be making sure we make the most of the opportunity. Maybe Casey isn’t used to it but I’ve had to play a lot of country quotas and qualification matches so I fully appreciated the benefit of being in the main draw without any stress.”

All eyes will be on the new duo when the Fort Lauderdale Major bursts into action on next week and you can hear the enthusiasm in Casey’s voice – it’s like those first few months when you meet someone new for the first time…

“You think, ‘oh my god’, it’s exciting. It’s like dating,” says the 36-year-old. “You want to show your best self to him, show him how smart and how cool you are. It’s hilarious but it’s true.

“You want to be able to win a point and look at each other and go ‘yeah, that’s why we’re together.’”

The Fort Lauderdale Major kicks off on Tuesday and you can watch every match live on our BeachStream – click here to sign-up and have the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to the World Championships in Vienna.

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