2018-04-25 16:27:00 CEST
After more than two years away from the World Tour, the Brazilian returns next week in Mersin
The last time Maria Clara Salgado competed in the beach volleyball World Tour things were very, very different. The Beach Major Series was on its first season, Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst were not the Olympic champions yet, Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas were still partners and Nadine Zumkehr had not retired.
A veteran of 150 World Tour tournaments, the 34-year-old Brazilian last competed internationally in September 2015 in Rio, but our wait to see her serving, digging and spiking balls again is about to come an end as the defender will play in the three-star tournament in Mersin, Turkey, next week.
Part of a traditional beach volleyball household in Brazil, Maria Clara stepped away from the courts for a while for a big reason, the birth of Joaquim, her first son, in August 2016, in a moment when most of her fellow beach volleyball players were competing at Rio Olympics.
“Being away for more than two years was hard, but also good,” she told us. “It was great to take a break to have Joaquim and I’ve enjoyed every step of it, which I still do. However, when I resumed training in 2017, my plan was to get back to the World Tour, but I just couldn’t find the right situation. It was frustrating because I wanted to be out there competing and I knew I could, but I felt I didn’t have a structured team with short and long-term goals, as I had always had.”
Feliz dia das Bruxas!!! 👻🦁 Happy Halloween from our furry family to yours 🎃 @shakesbeer_ #happyhalloween #diadasbruxas
588 Likes, 18 Comments - Maria Clara Salgado (@mariaclarasalgado) on Instagram: "Feliz dia das Bruxas!!! 👻🦁 Happy Halloween from our furry family to yours 🎃 @shakesbeer_..."
If Maria’s return to the World Tour didn’t materialize in 2017, lots of other things on her life did. Married to American beach volleyball player Jeremy Casebeer, she spent eight months of the year leaving in California.
There, they were training, competing in the American AVP Tour and bending over backwards to take care of Joaquim at the same time. Now, they are both in Brazil and doing the same - training and playing in the National Tour. The experience has been demanding, but also extremely pleasant for the couple.
“It was something new, I faced several different experiences as a mom, an athlete and a person,” the Brazilian added. “When we are in Brazil, we get big help from my family, but Jeremy’s family lives away from California, so it was just the two of us for most of the time with him.”
“We would have to schedule our training and gym sessions in a time when the other was able to be home to be with him. It was exhausting, but really fun. Joaquim is super easy-going and he’s always happy and that helps a lot.”
It’s a good thing that the last experiences prepared Maria Clara to changes as she will face quite a few on her return to the World Tour. Used to be one of the top-seeded teams in the world for the several years when she partnered with her sister Carol, the defender will now pair with Elize Maia and the duo will have to climb its way up in the rankings.
Additionally, Maria, who spent most of her career playing on the left side, is now transitioning to the right. However, after being away for two-and-a-half years, nothing is an issue in her eyes.
Atacar é bom demais.. e vai ficando cada dia mais divertido na minha nova posição 🏐🔥! Shaping my right side hitting options is SO fun... challenging myself a bit more on each practice in my new position feels great!! @elizemaia #cbv #fivb @cbvolei @fivbbeachvolleyball #rj #beachvolleyball #voleidepraia #Brasil #riodejaneiro #errejota #athlete
305 Likes, 11 Comments - Maria Clara Salgado (@mariaclarasalgado) on Instagram: "Atacar é bom demais.. e vai ficando cada dia mais divertido na minha nova posição 🏐🔥! Shaping my..."
“I’m so excited to return,” she smiles. “Our first goal is to grow as a team and get as many points we can in the next tournaments to be in a better position for the Beach Major Series in the summer. We need to get better regardless of victories or losses.”
“I’m taking the challenge of playing in a new position as a learning experience. I’m having fun and enjoying every progress I make. I'm loving having Elize by my side now and I feel very confident about our potential as an aggressive and hard-working team.”
Welcome back, Maria!