“The Australians are always favoured in their home town but they will have a target on their back”
They’re the words of Volleyball hall of famer and five time world champion Randy Stoklos.
The American Beach Volleyball legend says he loves coming to Australia, ever since his first visit as a player in the early days of the FIVB World Tour, where he and Sinjin Smith took out consecutive titles in 1990 and 1991.
Stoklos, the man who as a player was the first to earn over one million dollars in prize money, says the game has evolved and it’s the athleticism of the athletes now that he loves most about the modern game.
“For me to see the range of the players, the ability of them both, the men and the women. They’re really on par and equal to each other which is very exciting, there is not just one but two genders playing this sport and at a very high level now.”
Stoklos was a keen spectator on Manly Beach at today's Men’s qualifying on day one of the World Tour and while none of the four entered Australian teams made it through Stoklos believes Australia will still be hard to beat in the main draw.
“The weather is looking good, the players from abroad like Europe won’t be used to the hot and humid conditions and that’s an advantage for the local teams.”
Australia is seeded number one in both the men and women’s main draws and Stoklos says they deserve to be.
“Chris (McHugh) is one of the strongest players on the world tour and he doesn’t even know it, but he really reminds me of the Kangaroo, his jumping ability, his blocking ability and his ability to take over a game.”
“Then you have Damo (Schumann) as a pair they’ve gelled really well, you have a great defender and a great blocker and even vice a versa sometimes and so they work very well together.”
“But they’re going to need to get off to a great start. They didn’t begin well last weekend at the NSW Open, had a bit of luck, but that’s the sign of a good team to still get the win when you’re not at your best.”
In the Women’s main draw the Aussie number one seeds of Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar are expected to keep their dream run rolling since coming together for the recent Asian Tour.
“Taliqua Clancy is a world class athlete, she has all the range, she has the size, the speed and that pairing all of a sudden with a defender behind her has made her an even better team because of the fact that she’s not receiving all of the serves.”
Seven different countries including one lucky loser made it through qualifying and into tomorrow’s main draw:
SUI – METRAL/HAGENBUCH
CHI – WU JIAXIN/LI LEI
NZL – KAPA SEYMOUR
CZE – DUMEK/BERCIK
JPN – SHOJI/GOTTSU
ITA – ABBIATI/ANDREATTA
FRA – BARTHELEMY/DI GIANTOMMASO (Lucky Losers)
Women’s qualifying gets underway tomorrow (Thursday).