2019-02-13 10:00:00 CEST

From Tenerife with love

Why the Spanish island has become the beach volleyball mecca for Europeans

Love it here in beautiful Tenerife! It just doesn't get boring, even I've been here so many times! What a privilege I have, to do what I love and call it work! But Home Is Where My Heart is.... That's why I have it even written under my skin! Life is a beach 🤙🏼 . . . #tenerife #beachvolleyball #volleyball #family #love #tattoo #homeiswheretheheartis #beach #inked #keepmovingkeepticking #lasvistas #lasamericas #loschristianos @tatcat_tattoo_raphael . #passion 📸 @_volleyalex_

823 Likes, 10 Comments - Clemens Doppler (@clemensdoppler) on Instagram: "Love it here in beautiful Tenerife! It just doesn't get boring, even I've been here so many times!..."

It’s pre-season. Players around the globe are busy preparing themselves for a summer on the sand that includes a World Championship, Olympic qualification points and the 20th anniversary of the tournament in Gstaad. Let’s just say the 2019 season is going to be epic.

So training is in full swing. The beach elite need to be sharp and in the zone for when the big beach tournaments return. It’s pretty important.

For those athletes in the United States and Brazil, there’s sunshine and warm weather to bask in and practice until the sun goes down. It’s bikini and swim shorts weather for those in California, Florida and on the Copacabana.

But in case you didn’t know, beach volleyball isn’t dominated by the Americans and Brazilians these days. One look at the world rankings will tell you that story. The Europeans are on top right now. Yet during the winter months the stars of the sport from this continent cannot bare their bodies to the air in their native lands. Because it’s freezing cold.

Tenerife, part of Spain’s Canary Islands group and situated some 300 km (186 mi) from the African coast, is the go-to place for European beach volleyball teams to train.

With a warm and pleasant climate (the coldest month on record still recorded a t-shirt and shorts appropriate average temperature of 15.8 °C (60.4 °F)), and only few hours away by plane, it gives those European partnerships an ideal base to perfect their approach for the coming season.

For Clemens Doppler, who is used to more chilly temperatures in his native Austria, Tenerife is like a home. The veteran blocker, who won World Championship silver with Alex Horst in Vienna in 2017, has visited the island over 30 times in the last couple of years alone.

“There is always good weather, with a constant temperature around 25 degrees,” says the 38-year-old. “It’s more or less the base from Europe, where all good teams spend their preparation for the season. And it’s perfect to bring the family, too.

“It’s like coming home. We know the lady in the supermarket, we are friends with a little cafe right at the beach… so this feels really like home.”

Like their Austrian neighbors, Swiss players also seek out the sun in the winter.

Anouk Vergé-Dépré and teammate Joana Heidrich are regular visitors to Tenerife to train.

Tomorrow morning we'll fly to the second training camp of our preseason🙌🏻👯‍♀️ * * I missed the 👙 weather😊 we are ready for Tenerife and some sun☀ * * 📷 @swatchandsports #teamjoanouk🙍🏼🙍🏻 #ontheroad #tui #sun #beach #sea🌊 #happygirl

1,659 Likes, 5 Comments - Joana Heidrich (@joanaheidrich) on Instagram: "Tomorrow morning we'll fly to the second training camp of our preseason🙌🏻👯‍♀️ * * I missed the 👙..."

The 26-year-old says she has made over 15 trips to the island in recent years and sites the nice weather, short flights, excellent facilities and good food as her top reasons for returning time after time.

But it’s rare that a team will just turn up and find themselves alone. Training sessions will invariably involve practicing against other rival teams.

“Training against very good teams helps to grow and develop as a team,” explains Anouk. “We see where we stand and adjust things. Also it changes a lot from the indoor conditions: to train outside with the blue sky, sun and wind. We need that to be ready for the season.”

It’s the same for the boys, too. And training together in a different environment helps forge and strengthen team relations.

“Of course we are training together – we are planning our trips to Tenerife always with at least two other teams,” adds Clemens. “There is nothing to hide anymore - everybody knows everybody.

“We spend quite some time on and off the court, which helps to get some good vibes going.”

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