The mastermind behind Rebecca and Ana Patricia

19.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany

The Brazilians have become a sensation in the World Tour by the hands of Reis Castro

Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Ramos are one of the fastest-rising teams on the Beach Volleyball World Tour. The Brazilians spent most of last year playing qualifiers, but took advantage of each opportunity they had in 2019 to propel themselves up to the third place in the world rankings.

Their rise, which granted them a spot at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord after seven semi-final appearances and three gold medals in their last nine tournaments, wouldn’t have happened without an essential element of their team - head coach Reis Castro.

The 49-year-old, who competed in four international events between 1996 and 1998 with Brazilian legend Marcio Araujo, has been one of the most successful beach volleyball coaches in the history of the World Tour, having led the teams of Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca, Juliana/Maria Elisa Antonelli and Larissa/Talita Antunes to more than 150 medals in the competition.

With the first duo, Castro also won gold at the 2011 World Championships and bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. Since Larissa retired, in 2017, he has switched his focus to the 26-year-old Rebecca and the 20-year-old Ana Patricia. His work on building a new team, however, started a few years earlier.

“When Larissa and Juliana turned 26 I had the vision that I needed to start preparing younger players to fill their spots in 10 years when they wouldn’t be around, so this is not an accident,” Reis explained. “We experimented with a number of different players and to see that the work of our coaching staff took Rebecca and Ana to the place they are at now makes me really proud.”

To be able to help his younger players to climb through the international rankings, Reis had to embrace the change himself. Used to be near the top of the rankings when he coached Larissa, Juliana and Talita, the veteran had to lead Ana Patricia and Rebecca through the qualifier in their first international appearances.

The changes also included shaping his training system to make the most of the skills of the players.

“I believe that each player is unique, so what works with one might not work with another,” he added. “With that in mind, I still try to mimic some of the training strategies I used with Juliana and Larissa now with Rebecca and Ana, but always respecting their skills and their conditions. They have progressed a lot physically, technically and tactically, so I’m very confident we’re headed to the right direction.”

The Brazilians are now headed to what will be their most challenging tournament so far, the World Championships in Hamburg. Rebecca and Ana Patricia were drawn on Pool D, where they will face Spain’s Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, Germany’s Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider and Rwanda’s Charlotte Nzayisenga/Judith Hakizimana.

Their debut in such an impressive tournament paired with the massive amount of Olympic qualification points available could ultimately become a trap to them, but Reis is confident they’ll handle it well.

“This is just our first season on the World Tour and the World Championships are a good opportunity for us to consolidate our team among the best,” Reis explained. “We know that it will be the biggest event they’ve ever played at and that there will be different expectations for this one, but we need to take it as any other event and, above everything, have fun. It’s important that we focus on the present, especially because of the great moment we’re going through, and let the future take care of itself.”

More than the opponents, Rebecca and Ana Patricia will also need to adjust to a different competition schedule in Hamburg, one in which they will play one match each day for most of the time.

Reis hopes to have this situation under control as well as the coaching staff led by him and his longtime sidekick, fitness trainer Francisco Oliveira, have prepared them to just do what they’ve been doing lately – make the most of any situation they face.

“The World Championships are indeed different and the fact that teams plays just once a day generates some anxiety because players are used to be on the court for multiple matches and the tournament gets longer than usual,” he added. “Also, since you’re only playing once a day, there’s no reason to hold anything back and that makes all opponents potentially more dangerous. But we prepared them to take any situation they could potentially face in the same way and we’re confident they’ll be able to perform at their best and take as much advantage as possible of the opportunity they’re having.”