2016-11-28 09:21:00 CEST

Exclusive: Say hello to the newest team from Austria!

Put your hands together for Seidl/Winter!

Introducing Team Seidl/Winter – Tobias (left) and Robin (right). Photocredit: Seidl/Winter. Introducing Team Seidl/Winter – Tobias (left) and Robin (right). Photocredit: Seidl/Winter.

Here’s a Swatch Major Series exclusive that will be music to the ears of Austrian beach volleyball fans!

Yes, we’re delighted to be the first to reveal a brand new partnership made in Austria of…drum roll please…rising star Tobias Winter, 23, and 26-year-old Rio Olympic hero Robin Seidl.

Both athletes had to take difficult decision to say goodbye to their former teammates, Lorenz Petutschnig and Xandi Huber, at the end of the 2016 season.

Winter and Petutschnig had played together for over six years and posted two ninth-place finishes on the FIVB World Tour last season in Doha and Sochi.

Seidl also enjoyed a long and successful previous partnership. With Huber he scooped silver at the Doha Open last season and qualified for the Olympic Games by triumphing at the European Continental Cup. The pair then went on to perform brilliantly at Copacabana, reaching the last 16 and beating Americans Gibb/Patterson along the way.

But those previous successes are now consigned to history and there is a new partnership to work on.

So how did this exciting new team come about? 

“It’s all happened very quickly – Robin only asked me about a month ago,” Tobias exclusively told swatchmajorseries.com. “It was an important decision for me to make – it took me about two weeks because I had to take into consideration things with Lorenz.

“But sometimes in sport you have to make tough decisions but this is an exciting one. Robin is a top-10 Olympian and one of the best blockers in Austria at the moment. It’s a huge chance for me to get to know the FIVB World Tour and compete as a professional player and I just couldn’t let that chance slip.”

“I was pretty confident he would say yes!” laughs Robin. “Together with the Austrian Beach Volleyball Federation we decided that Tobias was the best option but I knew I wanted to play with him.”

“Xandi and I had a lot of ups and downs during our time but we left on happy terms – we achieved our big goal in Rio that we set out to do four years ago. We felt after such an achievement at the Olympics that it was a perfect point to move on.

“But I’m really looking forward to it. Tobias is an ambitious and talented guy who plays beach volleyball with his heart. He has big potential. Playing with a player and a person like this is very important to me.”

While Europe’s freshest beach volleyball team want to take things slowly in their first year on the sand together, there’s one event in particular in 2017 which is giving them goosebumps.

“When I heard that the World Championships were going to be in Vienna I freaked out!” jokes Tobias. “I know Hannes Jagerhofer does the best job in the world when it comes to putting on tournaments, especially in Klagenfurt, and this event will reach an even bigger audience.

“We want to be able to compete at the highest level in front of big crowds and we want to show Vienna what we’ve got. Knowing from Klagenfurt – where I watched as a seven-year-old boy – the atmosphere is going to be crazy and I think the tournament will act as an important experience of managing our focus.”

However, despite the prestige of Vienna holding the World Championships next year, there’s an even bigger goal in mind in four years’ time for a young team that already has bags of experience in the big tournaments around the globe.

“Tokyo 2020 is definitely a big aim for us,” explains Robin. “We’re planning the steps right now. As a team our focus is four years, but our goal during that time isn’t just the Olympics, it’s about growing as a team, hoping we can play the best beach volleyball we can, to improve year on year and, if we can focus on our game, then there’s no reason why we can’t go for gold in 2020.”

They are lofty ambitions but in their first few training sessions Tobias and Robin already believe the early signs are good.

“We’ve got a connection on court already which feels good,” says Tobias, who won European Under-20 and Under-23 titles with Petutschnig. “I get the feeling Robin wants to get better too – that’s something I like. He will push me and I can’t wait to see what lies in store.”

Robin agrees. “We’re pretty young and I see there’s fire in both of us to go out and achieve our goals. We want to do the best that we can – and we want to be perfect.”

It’s exciting times for beach volleyball in Austria – so make sure you get 28 July to 6 August in your diaries for what promises to be an unforgettable FIVB World Championships at the Danube Island.

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