Maria Antonelli follows heart to more Hague success
Carolina (left) and Maria Antonelli are en route to defend their Dela Beach Open gold medal
The Hague, Netherlands, January 6, 2018 – Maria Antonelli has certainly not left the defence of her and Carolina Salgado’s Dela Beach Open title to chance, and after making one huge sacrifice in the build up to the tournament the pair will again compete in the gold medal match.
The Brazilian duo beat Switzerland’s Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart 2-0 (21-14, 21-19) on Saturday to set up a clash against US pair April Ross and Alix Klineman in the indoor arena at Sportcampus Zuiderpark in The Hague on Sunday.
It made all the pair’s work worthwhile, and for Maria Antonelli a second gold medal would cap a memorable month or two.
“It was very difficult for me because one month ago I got married,” Maria Antonelli said. “I was back in Brazil for my wedding and it was very special for me.
“Then I went to my honeymoon and I had to practice on my honeymoon. So I wanted to kill the person who arranged this tournament, but now I am very happy I am here and I have practiced with all my heart to reach the final again.”
The pair only teamed up midway through 2017. They reached the quarterfinals at the Austria 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships quarterfinals, and the Moscow 3-Star tournament.
They beat Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre in the final in 2017, and that victory remains their best result as a pair.
“I just love to play here,” Carolina said. “I love the crowd and I love the city. It is really special for us, it was where we won our first gold medal, so it is a special place for us and now I’m looking forward to the match tomorrow for sure.”
Ross and Klineman continued their remarkable run in their first tournament together. They began the week with two US country quota round matches and then had to play two qualifying rounds before they reached the main draw.
In total they have gone on a run of nine consecutive wins, the latest a 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) victory over the Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova and Barbara Hermannova.
“That is a very good Czech team and we knew coming in that they were never going to give up and keep fighting,” Ross said. “Jen Kessy made an amazing game plan and we knew we had to stick to it. We knew we had to pass and we ended up passing and that is what got us through the match.”
“I think we go every day trying to learn as much as we can,” Klineman added. “We try to get better every day. We try to use every match as a chance, and not look too far ahead or too far back.
“I think we feel we’re capable of beating everybody and we’re just taking it a point at a time, one game at a time.”
For more information on the tournament, click here.