D.he summer got an unexpected extension. At least for Karla Borger and Julia Sude. The two beach volleyball players from Stuttgart are taking part in the World Tour final in Cagliari, where sand will be churned up in Sardinia from Wednesday. “We were really happy that we qualified,” say the two of them and consider it an “honor” to be one of the top ten teams in the world: “That feels like a giant candy.”
The 32-year-old Karla Borger and her playing partner two years older had actually planned to pack the colorful balls after the German championships in Timmendorfer Strand at the beginning of September. But shortly before the atmospheric national end of the year, in which they came second, the good news came from the World Federation (FIVB) that the final tournament that was canceled in Rome for September was now taking place – albeit in a different place at a different time – and that Borger and Sude are the only German duo to be there. “We gave it another go in training,” says Karla Borger.
In mid-August, Borger / Sude had reconciled their supposedly messed up season when they finished third at the European Championships in Vienna. The success on the Danube Island was of deeper emotional significance for them, a sign that they still belong to the elite. A good 14 days earlier, they had experienced an unexpected low point in a tournament that was intended to be the crowning glory of their careers: At the Olympic Games, they were eliminated without a hitch after three defeats in the group stage.
Illustres field in Cagliari
“We can do better”, they said afterwards and turned their game upside down again. And without a trainer. Because her coach Thomas Kaczmarek had surprisingly ended the cooperation just one day after the Olympics. The players managed to overcome the crisis together with their team psychologist Nadine Volkmer.
“We played freely” and “thought less”, both say about the differences between their style of play at the Olympics on the one hand and then in the European Championship and DM on the other. “Something popped up”: In addition to fun and joy, self-confidence also came back. And with it the success. In the world ranking, which is decisive for participation in the World Tour final, in which the eight best tournament results of each team with an extended Corona period since October 2019 have been entered, Borger and Sude moved up to seventh place just in time for the cut-off date – also thanks to the 480 Points that they earned for third place in the European Championship.
The illustrious field in Cagliari is led by the Olympic champions April Ross and Alex Klineman (USA), the world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes from Canada, the Swiss European champions Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli and the Brazilian world number one Agatha and Duda.
“Every game becomes a final,” says Borger about the great challenge of the tournament, which is initially played in two groups of five. The effort will definitely be worth it. After winning the EM bronze and DM silver as well as the honor of an entry in the Golden Book of the city of Stuttgart, there is now an impressive prize money. A total of 400,000 euros will be distributed among the ten women’s teams, with the winning duo collecting 150,000 alone. Even the last remaining 7,000 euros. “In any case, we go out with a plus,” says Karla Borger happily. But what is also necessary after the past two years: “We have gone a step further everywhere else.”