Mangaung, South Africa, December 13, 2014 - Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst reached the final of the FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball Mangaung Open on Saturday with a big 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) win over France’s Youssef Krou and Edouard Rowlandson.
The new Dutch team only partnered up at the end of August for the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam (5th), but this is already their third final in a row after winning the CEV Baku Masters and the Sao Paulo Grand Slam. In the final they will play the Chilean cousins Esteban and Marco Grimalt, who defeated Germany’s Sebastian Fuchs and Thomas Kaczmarek 2-1 (21-18, 21-12, 15-11) in an epic battle.
“This was our best match of the tournament”, said Varenhorst after defeating the French. Their last three matches had been tough three-setters.
“You need to be ready to play at the right moment. Before this we played so, so. So we told each other it had to happen now, because these guys have played very well this tournament and the ones before. So we knew we had to start aggressively and take initiative and I think we did that very well.”
Krou and Rowlandson, also a new pair since this year, won the Xiamen Open in October and after that bronze in Doha. But they couldn’t make a fist against the Dutch. They kept serving Nummerdor, best defensive player in 2009 and 2011, a two time Olympian and three times European champion, and let 2.12 meter tall Varenhorst grow confidence.
The French managed to level and even took a small lead in the beginning of the second set, but the Dutch team took over control again from 7-7. At 19-13 Varenhorst scored another big block, which gave them seven opportunities to close the game. France saved the first one, but at the next Nummerdor claimed victory with a smart cut shot.
“We make a good combination, yes”, Varenhorst said after the semifinal. “I just happened to see our win-loss record on Twitter, and I must say I was impressed. But you have to take into consideration it’s the end of the season and a couple of teams are not present here. But anyway teams that are not here you can’t beat and the teams that are here, we beat. So I think we are doing a good job and we are going for gold again.”Parana silver medallists eye gold this time
The other finalists, the Grimalt-cousins from Chili, are also hoping to claim the gold after they won silver at the Parana Open, losing to Canada’s Binstock/Schachter in the final. But first they have to recover from an exhausting semifinal against Germany’s Fuchs and Kaczmarek.
Esteban Grimalt could hardly stand after the match, which lasted 49 minutes in very hot and dry weather conditions. “It was a big, big fight and we are so tired right now”, he said. “But I am very proud of this win.”
The Germans came out strong winning the first set, but due to the high pace of the game and the heat they could not keep up with the Chileans anymore in the second set.
The Grimalts, better used to this weather, hit a lot in two and German blocker Fuchs could not follow anymore.
In the tiebreak it was point-by-point until Marco Grimalt made the difference with a couple of huge blocks, leaving it up to his younger cousin Esteban to score the final point on their second match point.
“The block helped us so much”, Esteban acknowledged. “Because I could break down any moment. It took the pressure of me. We felt very tired. Last week we played Continental Cup in Bolivia and finished on Sunday, flew to Chili, spent 10 hours there and then it took us one and a half day to get here. But in the second set we set our minds to it and decided we wanted to win this fight and would give our 100 percent.”
Now all the cousins want is to end this season since they started playing in 2011, their first full season, with a gold medal. “It’s the second final in our last two Opens. In the beginning of the year this was just a dream and now we made it. We are so happy that we made our family, girlfriends and coach proud.”