The Australian Beach Volleyball Tour hits Canberra this weekend where some of the country’s top talent will go head-to-head as they strive for a victorious start to 2023.
Canberra is a new stop on the Tour for this summer due to Cobram being affected by flood waters.
Following the first tournament of the season in Torquay in December, the Tour continues at Lyneham Beach Volleyball Courts from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 January.
After successful 2022 seasons, the top seeds in both the men’s and women’s draws are hoping to start this year on top.
For Zach Schubert and Thomas Hodges, last year could hardly have finished better after a stunning performance at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event in Torquay. While falling short of their expectations of a medal in the Challenger event, they found themselves through to the Elite 16 gold medal match, winning silver.
Now, after a couple of well-deserved weeks off over Christmas, the pair are back in a heavy training block and looking forward to the competition and community the national tour brings.
“We haven’t backed off training for the national tour because you need to keep training all the way through to be ready for the international events,” said Schubert. “That’s the most challenging thing for us because we keep going flat out through the national tour, so you might see us look a bit tired and a bit fatigued, and sometimes the games can be a bit closer than what they normally would be.
“That’s just a massive challenge for us and that’s where the benefit of the national tour comes in because everyone’s coming to get you, everyone wants to beat you.
“Everyone’s free and playing amazing volleyball against you and you’re tired from the week of training but you know you still have to win the game – that’s the beautiful thing about it.”
Schubert added that the event was a fun way to start off a hectic year and a half where Olympic qualification is the primary goal.
“We’re super pumped for the next 18 months because it’s all Olympic qualifying from here on out,” he said. “This is the last time we get to have a really good training and lifting period for the next 18 months because from here on in we’ll go from tournament to tournament, we’ll have a bunch of travel this year.
“But we’re really looking forward to playing the national tour,” he said. “It’s always good to get to play on home soil. I just enjoy playing national tour and getting back involved in the environment.
“Volleyball in Australia is quite a small community, and we get to see people we haven’t seen in a while. It puts your mind at ease a bit and takes you back to why you started playing volleyball.”
In the women’s draw, Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming enter the competition as top seeds. Forming a strong combination, the pair made the quarter-finals of the Pro Tour Challenge event in Torquay before going down to the eventual champions.
Like the men’s top seeds, their December performance provides a great platform to launch into 2023.
“We are super excited to play in our first national tour event of the year,” said Johnson. “We have a big year coming up, with plenty of international competition planned, so it’s great to get some tough competition under our belt on the ABVT prior to heading overseas.”
With temperatures set to hover around the 30C mark over the weekend, a hot Queensland summer has the pair well conditioned to what will face them as they chase victory in Canberra.
“We’ve been training hard with our squad in the Brissy heat, so the weather forecast for the weekend is prime,” said Fleming. “The women’s draw is looking strong, but we’ve got our eyes on gold.”
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