2018-02-22 08:00:00 CEST
The ‘Big Easy’ believes he can get better on and off the court with new partner Grant O’Gorman
The 2018 beach volleyball season is definitely going to be a different one to Ben Saxton. After four years sharing sand courts around the world with Chaim Schalk, the Canadian ‘Big Easy’ has a new partner in the up-and-coming 24-yeard-old Grant O’Gorman.
And he doesn’t want to get left behind.
“Chaim and I were very close as teammates, so obviously it's very different,” the 29-year-old blocker told beachmajorseries.com. “In a new partnership you're learning something new about each other every day. It's been a lot of fun trying to keep up with Grant, now that I'm the old fart paired up with a younger talent.”
O’Gorman’s energy and his flashy defensive game appealed Saxton to pick him up after Schalk’s decision of playing for the American federation in the future. And the veteran is excited with all the skills the rookie can bring to the table.
“I chose Grant because his skill set complements mine very well, so he can make me look good”, Ben admitted. “With him, we'll be able to play a more defense-focused game because he's like lightning behind me, nothing can hit the ground.”
The fact that O’Gorman is very active, fun and engaged on social media was not overlooked by the reserved Saxton, who believes the partnership with the Scarborough-native can also help him to step up his game outside the courts.
“I am working on my social media game, but yes, I'm more or less pretty boring,” he says with a laugh. “I’m about as boring as a person who travels everywhere playing beach volleyball can be, anyhow. Grant is far better at putting fun takes on our everyday routines, but he's helping me out.”
The new team debuted with a victory in the World Tour two-start event in Sydney last November, which was the first gold for both players, and followed up with a fifth place in the four-start tournament in The Hague, where they faced some of the top teams in the world in the first week of the year.
The first results brought both confidence and the prospect that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
“It's always exciting to win,” Saxton said about the gold medal they won in Australia. “The good result in The Hague showed us how much potential we have to play even better. The more we play, the more in sync we'll become.”
The next stop for the new team will the Fort Lauderdale Major, the first five-star event of the year, between February 27 and March 4. The goal of the Canadians is to keep progressing, slowly and steadily.
“I would say we're at about a 6 out of 10 now,” Saxton analyzed. “We mainly need to keep improving our communication and learning each other's habits and we'll be able to grow in leaps and bounds. We'll certainly be better in Fort Lauderdale.”
Looking forward to see some good plays and a few amusing social media posts, Ben!