2018-02-23 08:00:00 CET
The Dutch blocker enters the 2018 season with his third different partner in three years
Christiaan Varenhorst’s career seems to be in a loop in the last few years. Since 2016, every time the Dutch giant enjoyed a successful season in the beach volleyball World Tour, he was forced to start over with a new partner the following year. That’s also the case in 2018, as the 27-year-old blocker enters the season pairing with Jasper Bouter.
In 2016, Varenhorst competed in his first Olympics in Rio with Reinder Nummerdor, but his veteran partner decided to retire right after the Games, ending their two-year partnership, which was highlighted by a silver medal in the 2015 World Championships and four World Tour golds.
In a bold move, the Dutchman returned in the 2017 summer with Marteen van Garderen, a National Team indoor player, by his side. The new team connected almost immediately and achieved an impressive fourth-place in the World Championships in Vienna. After that, though, van Garderen decided to resume his indoor career in Italy, leaving Varenhorst alone again.
But that’s not an issue for the 2.10m-tall blocker, who is ready to start again, now with Bouter.
“Of course it’s difficult to handle making the basic adjustments and structuring our team to play,” Varenhorst told beachmajorseries.com. “But we have a really good coaching staff, which is helping us a lot and I believe we’ll be very competitive soon. I’m happy with the progress we are making.”
At 21, Bouter is a young Dutch prospect with limited international experience, having competed in only five World Tour events so far. With 68 international tournaments under his belt, Varenhorst is confident he is the right choice for the Olympic cycle towards Tokyo 2020.
“I'm really excited to play with Jasper,” he said. “He is a very talented player and made a huge step forward last year despite being injured. I saw what he’s capable of and we can be a good block-defense team. I don’t think we are able to compete with the best right away, but we are moving forward really fast and a lot can happen in a short time.”
For the young Bouter, the opportunity to partner with an established player in Varenhorst couldn’t be more exciting. The defender, who finished fourth in the Under-19 World Championships in 2014, feels ready to play his first full season in the World Tour.
“It’s great to share the court with one of the best in the sport,” the rookie told us. “I really enjoyed watching him play in the 2015 World Champs and now, a couple of years later, I’m his new partner. I’m really looking forward to play in the Major tournaments, it has always been my dream to compete in the World Tour. It’s going to be a big challenge to play on this level for the first time, but I’m ready.”
Ready or not, Varenhorst and Bouter will be tested against the best of the best next week at the Fort Lauderdale Major, the first five-star tournament of the year. The duo had a promising start together, finishing fourth in the four-star event in The Hague in January and taking home the Dutch National title late in 2017, but they know the Major Series will be a completely different beast to face.
“Making to the semifinals in The Hague was a good achievement for us,” Varenhorst added. “It boosted our motivation and also gave us some much-needed points. In Fort Lauderdale we will start in the qualification tournament, so the first focus is solely on that. We will have to fight for every point and we’ll see what’s possible.”
Looking forward to see Varenhorst’s new start…again!
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