Lausanne, Switzerland, January 30, 2017 – After splitting from long-time teammate Victoria Bieneck last year, Germany's Julia Grossner knew she would start 2017 with a new beach volleyball partner.
With Laura Ludwig nursing a shoulder injury, Kira Walkenhorst had to find a solid teammate to play with in February’s Ft. Lauderdale Major. So she called up her friend Grossner and it may prove to be the perfect solution to both their problems.
“It wasn’t a case of me agreeing straight away; I needed to think about it,” Grossner says. “I wanted to talk things through with my coach.” And she had to consider her new partner, 21-year-old Nadja Glenzke.
“We began practicing together in October but we were unsure about how we would qualify for tournaments because we wouldn’t have enough points,” says Grossner. “To play with Kira in Fort Lauderdale helps Kira, me and Nadja.
“From my point of view, if Kira and I can obtain a good result in Fort Lauderdale then the better the chances are for myself and Nadja to qualify for tournaments together. It’s a win-win situation for us.”
So, from worrying about qualifying, she is now thrown into the mix with one of the sport’s top players. Is she nervous?
“I’m excited,” she says. “I’m not thinking that I’m replacing Laura. She’s an awesome player, on another level. Kira and I are friends, we have known each other a long time. The focus is on me and Kira during Fort Lauderdale and after that tournament the attention will be on me and Nadja.
“It’s also good for me to experience playing with Kira in this environment. Long term, I want to be able to transmit what I learn while playing with Kira to when I’m playing with Nadja. I think the more situations I can learn from, the better.”
The experience will help Grossner and Glenzke as they bid to represent Germany at the World Championships in Vienna in August, but the competition remains tough.
“As a nation, we are in a good place at the moment because we have got some real quality teams on the Tour,” Grossner says. “Kira and Laura are out on their own really – they are just in a different league. But we have Julia Sude and Chantal Laboureur, Maggie Kozuch and Karla Borger and Victoria and Isabel Schneider, too. It’s going to be tough but I certainly think this experience of playing with Kira in Florida will help Nadja and I.”
Grossner’s biggest win so far was a gold on the World Tour with Bieneck at the Anapa Open in Russia in 2014.
“That gold was like a dream come true,” she says. “It would be great to be able to win gold again but the focus is one tournament at a time – starting in Fort Lauderdale with Kira.”