2018-02-24 09:00:00 CEST
World champions Andre and Evandro return to Fort Lauderdale, where they first played together
In the world of sport, it’s always very easy to celebrate the final point of a successful journey. Acknowledging the importance of the first step of that trajectory, though, is not as usual, but it is exactly what beach volleyball world champions Andre Loyola and Evandro Goncalves will do next week, when they compete in the Fort Lauderdale Major.
One year ago, the Brazilians joined forces in the World Tour and the first place they ever competed at was Fort Lauderdale. The duo that entered the tournament as a young, tall and promising team exceeded expectations and took home the silver medal, the first of the three they would collect together in 2017.
“It was my first medal in the Major Series, so it was obviously an unforgettable tournament for me,” Andre recalls. “And it was very important for our team as well as the points we earned there kept us in the main draw for the next tournaments. And it showed that we had a great potential as a team.”
A team with a great potential was definitely an accurate way to describe them at the time. In the following six months, Andre and Evandro managed to dominate the international scene by triumphing at the World Championships in Vienna and winning the silver medal at the World Tour Finals in Hamburg.
The team also finished the year as first in the World rankings. Their amazing season made them finalists of the "Brasil Olímpico" award, the most important prize for Olympic athletes in the country. It's a lot to process for a couple of up-and-coming players enjoying only their first season together in the sands of the world.
“Sometimes it’s even hard to believe in everything that happened in 2017,” Andre, the youngest world champion ever, told us. “From the moment Evandro invited me to play with him to our victories in the World Championships and in the World Tour and our silver medal in the World Tour Finals, it seemed everything happened in a blink of an eye.”
It might have been fast, but it was certainly not unnoticed. If Evandro and Andre entered 2017 with a big question mark next to their names, this season they will have to deal with a different sign: a target, right on their backs.
As the reigning world champions, the Brazilians are automatically the team to beat for every other tandem competing in the World Tour. And as Andre noted, they are ready to deal with the responsibility they earned.
“We work with a psychologist, so we are ready to deal with the pressure,” he said. “We are aware that this season is going to be harder. All the teams have better chemistry now and with the Olympic race set to start, everyone is going to be really motivated. And we know they will study our game more deeply. We need to create some new things and keep improving and adjusting.”
The duo is taking its preparation very seriously and they have even spent the Carnival, the traditional Brazilian holiday, in the Training Center of the Brazilian Federation, in Saquarema, a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
The goal is to be in great shape to open the season with a good result in the #FTLMajor, but, more than that, sustain their position as the best team in the world all-year long.
“The Fort Lauderdale Major is very important for us,” Andre says. “We really want to start the season well and, most importantly, to consistently get good results over the year. Last year was great for us, but our achievements were based on a few good results in key moments. We need to be more consistent this season.”
You couldn’t have a better place to get it started, guys!
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