2019-01-15 21:25:00 CET
After a stellar start, Stoyanovskiy and Krasilnikov hoping to extend their honeymoon on the World Tour
Every new beach volleyball team aims for a good start, as it both boots confidence and helps on the next steps of the way, but not many people expected Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov would have so much success in their very first tournaments together - not even themselves.
The Russians joined forces last September and have immediately clicked as a team, making it to the podium in each of the three World Tour tournaments they have played so far, winning gold in the Hague, silver in Yangzhou and bronze in Las Vegas.
“I was sure our partnership would be successful, but we didn’t put much hope on the first events,” Stoyanovskiy admitted to beachmajorseries.com. “But the China and Las Vegas (both in October) tournaments were a little bit off the season and some strong teams had already started to take time off, so our way to the semifinals was not obstructed.”
“In the Hague, however, it was a different story. We were in a training camp for the entire month of December and were very concentrated to stay on top of the Olympic ranking. Maybe other teams have different schedules and will reach their peak later in the season, so our victory may have looked a little bit unchallenged.”
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But, don’t be fooled, their route to the top of the podium at the indoor courts of the Dutch coastal city was not a stroll in the park at all. The Russians had to prevail in tough matches against compatriots Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov in the semifinal and German rising stars Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler in the final.
Their most impressive victory, however, happened even before that. In what the most astonishing result of the week in the Hague, Oleg and Viacheslav, nicknamed Slava on the World Tour, took down last year’s Gstaad Major, Vienna Major, Hamburg World Tour Finals and European Championship winners Anders Mol and Christian Sørum of Norway 21-12, 21-13 in the quarterfinals in what was the most one-sided setback of the Beach Volley Vikings since they became a dominant force on the international stage.
“The Vikings are obviously the best team on Tour now and we were very happy to have won our first match with them,” 22-year-old Oleg explained. “There will definitely be more clashes like that deeper in the season, so it’s hard to draw serious conclusions at the moment. As the Olympics get closer, the competition level among the top teams will just get higher.”
The good results sent Oleg and Slava to the top of the provisional Olympic rankings with 2,160 points, a comfortable lead over Semenov and Leshukov, who have 1,440. Their goal is to keep the good form and secure their Olympic spot as soon as possible, but the next couple of months will be challenging to the Russians.
With their next international appearance set to happen at the four-star event in Doha, Qatar, in mid-March, they will have to keep the workload and their motivation high for another two months until they hit the sand again.
“We are training in Tenerife during the month of January,” Slava, who was a semifinalist of the last edition of both the Olympics and the World Championships, added. “We’ll have a short break back home and will start another camp, possibly in Tenerife again, with the Polish and the Norwegians. Our focus will remain in the event in Doha as every tournament is crucial to the Olympic qualification.”
The months without tournaments will also be used to build some much-necessary team chemistry, but, with them, it doesn’t seem like they would need much time to do it.
“I am thrilled that we finally got to play together and hope I this honeymoon lasts for some time,” the 27-year-old defender remarked. “We are friends outside of the courts and we spend a lot of time together. The results are great, but the most important thing is that the game now is great fun for both of us.”