COURT AND SCHUMANN PUT ICING ON THE BEACH VOLLEYBALL CAKE
Any doubts about the supremacy of Joshua Court and Damien Schumann on the Australian beach volleyball tour have been put to rest, after the pair won the Australian tour title in wet conditions at Manly Beach on Sunday.
It was an incredible seventh straight title for the Victorian-based pair since the start of the 2015/16 summer season.
There were double celebrations for Schumann, with partner Sarah Battaglene teaming up with 2012 Olympian, Becchara Palmer, to win the women’s title.
Schumann and Court have lost only three sets all season, and looked at their very best in beating former Danish international, Bo Soderberg, and Western Australian Casey Grice in straight sets in the final.
“This is good as it gets, really,” Court said.
“To drop just three sets over the course of seven tournaments, and to come out in the Australian tour final, with the list of players that were here, it was really good just to play consistent ball like that.”
Schumann said despite their dominance, the pair never felt comfortable.
“On court I’ve always felt really nervous, all these doubts keep creeping in,” Schumann said.
“But we’ve been training hard, putting the work in. A little bit of luck always helps, but we are slowly getting more consistent and better at the things we do.”
Soderberg and Grice earned their place in the final with a gripping three-set win over Australia’s top ranked international team, Chris McHugh and Isaac Kapa, in the semi-finals.
Sunday’s result throws wide open the race for Olympic selection for the Australian men’s teams. While Kapa and McHugh have the most experience internationally, Court and Schumann have made life difficult for selectors with their recent form.
The women’s title was particularly pleasing for Battaglene, who grew up playing on the sands of Manly Beach before moving to Melbourne with Schumann.
“It’s my first ever national tour win, and to win at Manly, ahead of Asian Champs and in an Olympic year, it’s something really special,” Battaglene said.
Palmer and Battaglene beat Victorian Christy Jenkins and American Brittany Tiegs in a hard-fought 3-set final.
Palmer says despite being a relatively new partnership, she and Battaglene work well together.
“We haven’t been playing together all that long, but we’ve put in a lot of really hard work,” Palmer said.
“It’s a combination of a lot of hard work we’ve put in, but we know we are capable of so much more.”
The HelloWorld Volleyroos will now turn their attention to next week’s Asian Championships, which will wrap up the 10-day “Volleyfest” at Manly Beach.
A four-nation competition involving leading U21 women’s teams from Australia, USA, Brazil and Japan starts at Manly tomorrow.