18.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord will see a handful of young players testing themselves on one of the biggest stages of their sport for the first time in their careers and among them is Dutch rising star Joy Stubbe.
The 21-year-old blocker is by no means a new face at the World Tour, as she has been regularly competing with the beach volleyball elite since 2016, but her debut at the most prestigious tournament of the calendar will only happen in a month-time, when her and partner Marleen van Iersel, a veteran of five World Championships, step foot at the Rothenbaum.
“I’m very excited,” she says. “After working so hard for the last couple of years, I cannot wait to be in such an amazing event in just my third season as a pro. The World Championships are obviously one of the biggest tournaments in our sport and this season, with our focus been the Olympic qualification, it makes it even more important for us to show what we got.”
Stubbe’s debut in the event, however, almost happened two years earlier, in Vienna. At the time, the Joy, then a 19-year-old player just entering the World Tour, partnered with Jolien Sinemma and the team nearly made the cut to compete at the Danube Island.
The pair started the year in qualification and advanced to the main draw in each tournament they played. Their season was highlighted by a solid fifth-place finish in Xiamen, but it still wasn’t enough to grant them a ticket to the Austrian capital that summer.
“That was a great season,” Stubbe recalled. “We were both very young and we progressed really well throughout the year, but the World Championships came a little too early for us and we were out for just one or two spots. It was disappointing because we really felt we deserved to play, but at the same time it motivated us to keep pushing forward in the rest of the season.”
The truth is that it seems like Stubbe’s first interaction with the World Championships was always supposed to happen in Hamburg anyway. That’s because in 2015, when the event was held at the Netherlands, the blocker, a two-time Under-20 European champion, was out of the country competing. She recalls watching the men’s final between her compatriots Christiaan Varenhorst and Reinder Nummerdor and Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt and being impressed with the atmosphere.
Her current partner, van Iersel, was competing in that event, though. Since she joined forces with the experienced defender at the start of the 2018 season, Stubbe’s career has reached a different level, with two World Tour semi-final appearances and eight top-10 appearances in 15 tournaments.
“We’re working really hard to make our level even higher,” Stubbe explained. “I feel that sometimes we just need to take a break and understand how things are going for us. With the daily routine of training and all the hard work, sometimes we forget that. Every time I do it, though, I realize that we’re doing well and it makes me very proud of my team.”
The Dutch are fresh from one of their final four appearances, which happened just a few weeks ago, in a four-star event in Itapema. It was the first tournament of the team since January and the good result certainly elevated the team’s confidence as the World Championships approach even if they haven’t played as frequently as most of their opponents have so far in 2019.
“Having a break from competition can go either way,” Joy explained. “Sometimes it’s necessary for you to work on some specific details, but, of course, training is not the same as playing. We’re taking these tournaments before the World Championships as an opportunity to integrate all we worked on in to our game. Our goal is to peak in Hamburg and we’re looking forward to it.”