25.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
April Ross is probably a good option to look for advice if you’re going to compete at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord, especially if it will be your first time at the event.
However, her partner Alix Klineman, who’s set to make her World Championships debut in about a month, might be the only lucky one to benefit from April’s wisdom, as the 36-year-old American, who reached the tournament’s final in two different decades, taking gold in Stavanger 2009 with Jennifer Kessy and silver in Vienna 2017 with Lauren Fendrick, keeps the cards close to her chest when asked about the key for a good performance at the big stage.
“I think a lot of what we’re doing is what it takes to be successful at the World Championships, but we’d better keep it to ourselves,” she said, laughing, when we asked. “One thing, though, is that we never take anything for granted. It’s not like there’s some key secret, we just have to work really, really hard and believe in ourselves.”
In Hamburg, the defender, a two-time Olympic medalist, is set to make her seventh-straight appearance in the tournament and her experience will come handy for Klineman as the former indoor player, who transitioned to the beach in 2017, a few months before Ross won silver in Vienna, will feature in the biggest tournament of her still young beach career.
Despite of the early debut and her limited experience, the blocker is confident about the team’s chances at the Rothenbaum. And that has a lot to do with her partner.
“I knew that once I partnered with April a lot of doors would open and that we would be a good team because she’s incredible,” Klineman added. “It’s super exciting, it’s the biggest tournament of the year and the strong teams will all be there. There will be a lot of Olympic qualification points at stake and we for sure want to arrive in good form. I don’t know if I expected all to happen so fast, but I do know that when we play well and we’re training well, we can compete with the best.”
April’s experience should actually provide a boost to the team even before they play their first match at the Rothenbaum. With the World Championships being the centerpiece of everyone’s plan, it’s imperative that a tandem that’s willing to contend for gold in Hamburg get to the tournament on its best form.
Gold in Itapema!!🥇 I love doing battle with @aklineman10 by my side! ⚔️👯♀️⚔️ Lots of work went into this week and I’m grateful to everyone who put in time and effort to help us. So proud of how we dealt with the more challenging moments and stuck together🙌🏼👊🏼 And so thankful to have @fiapogtenius with us here and @jenniferkessy helping from home! #ATeam #TeamHugs ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ❤️ @mizunovolleyballnorthamerica @gatorade ❤️
That could be tricky in an year in which virtually every tournament is important as Olympic qualification is underway, but the Americans, who won three of the last five tournaments they played at, already have a plan laid out to be at the top of their game when the World Champs kick off.
“We’re trying to get equal amounts of training, competition and recovery,” Ross explained. “That’s our main goal, the World Championships, so obviously we feel good right now, but we want to continue to feel good, so we’re going to keep working hard.”
April is looking to make of Hamburg the third European city in which she stepped on the podium in the World Championships. So far, she had mixed feelings about the city as she had a good fourth-place finish at the 2016 Hamburg Major with Kerri Walsh Jennings, but couldn’t get past ninth with Fendrick the next year, when the German city hosted the World Tour Finals.
She couldn’t be any happier about everything else regarding the city, though.
“I really like the city,” she added. “It’s a very peaceful place, with a lot of great places to eat and the venue is great. It’s a really fun arena and it’s going to be a great event.”