2019-01-30 09:00:00 CEST

Under new management

After their best season in a decade, Herrera and Gavira enter 2019 with a new coach

Herrera and Gavira are now working with former Spanish player Fran MarcoHerrera and Gavira are now working with former Spanish player Fran Marco

A popular saying states that if something isn’t broken, it shouldn’t be fixed. However, looking for even better international results, Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrián Gavira have decided to start the 2019 season with a new head coach in charge of their team.

After winning three World Tour medals in 2018 – gold in Ostrava, silver at the Gstaad Major and bronze in Huntington Beach – the Europeans have decided to not rest on the laurels of their most prolific international season since 2009, when they first played together, and have brought former player Fran Marco on board.

The 32-year-old coach, who is four years younger than Pablo, is replacing the veteran Sixto Jiménez, who had worked with them for long and successful seasons.

“We’re very happy about how we played in 2018,” Pablo explained. “Despite of all the years we have together, we keep playing at a very good level. The coaching decision was made by both of us and Sixto, he’s like family for us, so it wasn’t hard at all. We’d been working together for such a long time and had so much success, but we felt that the best for the team now would be trying a different training system, which could bring new challenges and new motivations for us.”

The Spaniards claimed the silver medal of last year's Gstaad MajorThe Spaniards claimed the silver medal of last year's Gstaad Major

Marco was a former World Tour player himself, having represented Spain in 101 international events between 2003 and 2016, when he retired and started coach the Spanish youth and junior teams in Lorca.

He actually spent part of his playing career with Gavira, who was his partner in 14 international events between 2005 and 2007. They’ve been working together again since the first week of January, now as coach and athlete.

“We can feel he’s very motivated and he’s been passing a great energy for us,” Adrián commented. “He’s very active and communicates really well. I know him very well and I know he’s ambitious, so he’ll fit in perfectly with our team.”

The goal with the change is to get help from someone who was looking at the team from the outside and who has obviously a great volleyball mind can refine the game of the Spanish, who have been pairing since 2009 and have shared the courts in as many as 125 international tournaments.

The first weeks with Marco have made a positive impression on Pablo, a silver medalist of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“Fran is working on new drills with us and they hopefully will help us to improve on our weaknesses,” the 36-year-old player added. “Even after so many years, there are always places where you can improve. A young coach like him also brings new motivation to our routine. He’s also played at a high level and retired not long ago, so he knows all the teams pretty well.”

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The move happens in one of the most important seasons for the team in recent years as the Spaniards will try to qualify for their third-straight Olympics – and Pablo’s fifth – after finishing ninth in both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

“It’s obviously a very important season for us with several Olympic qualification events but we try to take it as any other year,” Adrián said. “All we want is to keep doing well and to remain as consistent as we’ve been for the last seasons.”

If in the World Tour their results have been obviously great, Herrera and Gavira will try to reach the same level of efficiency in the most important event of the year, the 2019 World Championships, in Hamburg, from June 28 -July 7.  

“This is the one tournament we haven’t managed to get a good result yet,” Adrián admitted. “We finished fourth in four of the five World Championships we played together, so we’re really looking forward to give that next step and compete for the medals. The level is so high in the World Tour and several teams can win the medals in Hamburg, but I hope we’re one of them. It is, for sure, one of our main goals for 2019.”

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