01.07.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
The series of shake-ups which affected Brazilian men’s beach volleyball over the last 13 months obviously impacted each of the top players in the country, but probably none of them have used the unexpected situation to boost their own development as well as Vitor Felipe did.
The 28-year-old Vitor started the process as a left-side blocker with Guto Carvalhes and ended it - at least for now - as a right-side split-blocker with Pedro Solberg, who’s his partner at this week’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord.
In the meantime, he also split block with Evandro Goncalves, but at the time playing on his preferred left side. For a player who spent all of his youth and most of his professional career with the same partner, Álvaro Filho, those have been some significant changes to digest.
“It wasn’t easy, especially because when I first started with Pedro I was playing as a full-time defender on the right, which I had never done before,” he said. “At the beginning, I would feel lost at times in the court and I would move wrongly all the time.
“And it wasn’t just having new partners, it was also moving cities and adjusting to different coaching staffs. Now I’m feeling better and I realize it has all just made me stronger. It was a challenge, but I made it, and I feel like I’m prepared for any situation and also more confident.”
The key word for Vitor is versatility. Being able to play on both sides of the court and to be either a defender or a blocker – and at times both – is something the Brazilian strongly believes will advance his career and lead him to better results.
“That’s how I want to be known, as a versatile player,” Vitor stated. “The splitting-block strategy is being more used by teams and I think in the future it will be even more usual. The workload on full-time blockers is insane and it makes really tough for them to side out at a good level. That’s one of the reasons why Pedro and I decided to do it and I feel he’s a much more efficient player now that he doesn't have to block the entire time.”
The series of partnership changes also landed Vitor with one of the most experienced players in the Brazilian pool in Pedro. The 33-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian has been a staple in the World Tour since 2006 and his expansive personality makes of him a great mentor to younger players.
“Pedro surprises me with something new every day,” Vitor added. “He knows so much about the game and the good thing about him is that he’s keen to pass it along. Sometimes he even says he knows he can be annoying with that, but I love it and I’ve been more and more open to anything he says recently because I feel I learn so much from him.”