Natalia Dubovcova & Andrea Strbova in action at Espinho centre court
Espinho, Portugal, July 19, 2019 – Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova & Natalia Dubovcova have their long-term goals, but know that they can reach them only if they play well in the right now. They see the level is high and the competition is tight and know that it is important to stay focused on every ball, they told fivb.com on the premises of the Espinho four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
Following that philosophy, they have been growing as a team and achieving better and better results. The pair’s only World Tour medal so far since they teamed up in 2017 is the bronze they earned at the Mersin three-star in 2018. In the current 2018-2019 season they managed to get a few fifth-place finishes at three or four-star events and last week they took fifth place at the five-star Gstaad stop, their best result at such a high-level tournament yet.
“You can see how teams are really close and the competition is really tight,” 29-year-old Natalia Dubovcova said. “Sometimes you are so close to winning the game, but also so close to losing it. So it is important to focus on every ball, because you never know… Also, the teams coming in from the qualifications are really good, so it’s tough. Every match is tough.”
Before Gstaad, the Slovak duo took part in the World Championship in Hamburg, where they registered a 17th-place finish after winning two and losing two matches.
“For me it was the biggest tournament I have ever been to, so I enjoyed every game,” 23-year-old Andrea Strbova pointed out.
“I remember the first match against Finland in Hamburg. It was really important to start the competition with a victory. And it was a really good match on our side,” Dubovcova added. “We really enjoyed the event. It was really big and many Slovak fans were there, so it was a great experience for us...”
The next really big tournament for Strbova & Dubovcova will be the World Tour Finals from September 4 through 8 in Rome, but before that they have a few more World Tour events and a European Championship to think about.
“Right now we are not thinking about Rome, because there are a few tournaments before that and we are focusing on them, step by step. We don’t want to think two months in advance,” Dubovcova explained. “It’s important to play well right now. So we will think about Rome before Rome. Even next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo might be our long-term goal, but it doesn’t make sense to think about that now. We know that if we play well right now and then at every tournament after that we will achieve our goals.”
Right now, Andrea Strbova & Natalia Dubovcova are playing at Espinho. In their first pool match they came back from a set down against reigning Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and her partner Margareta Kozuch of Germany to claim a 2-1 victory. In the pool winners’ game, the Slovaks lost to Brazilians Barbara Seixas De Freitas & Fernanda Alves in straight sets, but by the narrowest of margins in the second. They are still in contention and look forward to their round-of-24 opponents, USA’s Kelly Claes & Sarah Sponcil. But the opponents are not their biggest obstacles on the Atlantic coast of Portugal.
Andrea Strbova spikes against Germany’s Margareta Kozuch at Espinho
“Here we are fighting against the windy conditions more than we are fighting against the rivals,” Strbova said.
“It’s changing all the time. You come to the court in the morning and there is no wind at all, but it’s foggy and the visibility is not good. In the afternoon the sun is shining, but it’s really windy,” Dubovcova elaborated. “But it’s the same for all the teams, so we have to adapt quickly and be ready for all kinds of conditions.”
Quick links - Beach volleyball: