2018-09-11 09:00:00 CET
Combining power and precision, Evandro has won his fourth-straight best server award
When the individual awards of the 2017-2018 World Tour season were announced last week, not many people were surprised to see Brazilian Evandro Gonçalves as the best server once again. After all, the reigning World Champion has now won the trophy in each of the last four seasons.
Standing at 2.10m, the Brazilian Olympian has become a deadly threat from the service line over the last few years. And one of the most important reasons for his success was the guidance of his coach, Ednilson Costa, known in the Tour as Ed.
“I owe that to him,” Evandro told beachmajorseries.com. “He was the first to believe I could be a great server because of my size. I bought in to his idea and we went all in on that. It’s been a long road, we worked very hard and tested several different things and it’s very pleasant now to get this recognition and see how far I’ve got with my serving.”
Evandro’s efforts to become the world’s best server include exhausting training sessions in the sands of Leblon, Rio de Janeiro. It’s there where every day the Brazilian star shapes what has become the most feared service on the World Tour through numerous drills prepared by Ed and his coaching staff.
“We try to do it differently every day,” he said about his serving practices. “And I like it, because even in all those different situations I push myself to the limit. Sometimes we start the training session with the serving drill and I’m not completely warmed up, sometimes it’s in the end, when my energy level is low. And these are the exact situations that happen during games, so the training sessions really get me ready for every possible scenario.”
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But what’s the recipe for a perfect serve?
For Evandro, training is crucial to achieve a perfect execution, but the reps alone aren’t enough to assure the most efficient service. According to him, the mental strength is one of the key components to put the opponents in trouble.
“I think that the moments before you serve are really, really important,” he explained. “I focus on what I want to achieve in that play and I take all the time I need mentalizing it. I also try to keep the exact same routine from the moment I receive the ball to the time I hit it. I learned to take a deep breath right before serving and that has worked very well to keep me calm and concentrated.”
Then, it’s action time.
The entire serving mechanics lasts probably less than two seconds, but there are at least four actions that need to be perfectly executed in that short period – tossing the ball, sprinting, jumping and hitting it.
“It all starts with a good toss because if it’s misplaced there’s no way to fix it,” he reflected. “Once the ball is in the air, my next goal is to hit it in the highest possible point. And I’m always looking for the right angle. If I can hit a good angle and put some speed, it will be tough for the opponents, especially if I can place it in between them.”
Want an example of a perfect execution?
Then just rewind it to last year’s World Championship’s gold medal match, when Evandro and then-partner Andre Loyola were down 17-20 to Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in the first set.
The Austrians’ lead seemed just a matter of time, but Evandro thought differently. He had the guts, the composure and, of course, the technique to score three serving points in a row to tie the set 20-20. The Brazilians ultimately won the set 23-21 and the match 2-0 to win their first-ever world title.
“When the ball boy handed me the ball, I knew I had to make a difference or we’d lose the set,” he recalled. “And the joy after I did it was unspeakable. I never get tired of watching it and those moments are still in my mind every single day. It was a situation which was very unlikely to be changed and it was fantastic to see all the hard work paying off in such an important match.”
However, even after four straight awards and a gold medal in the World Championships won largely because of his serve, the 28-year-old Brazilian still wants more. So, watch out, world, the best server award might still be locked for another several years.
“I definitely don’t want to stop at four, I want more,” he stated. “And I believe I can still improve. I want to be more consistent and to make fewer mistakes. And I’d also love to add some variation to it, which I managed to do this season with some short serves. I don’t want to get stuck to just one style and I don’t want to rely on my power alone.”
“Our team has weekly video sessions where we analyze a lot of our games and that’s when we notice all the details we can improve. In the end of the day, these are the things that make the difference.”