26.07.2020 - Vienna, Austria
The opening event of the 2020 German Tour season for the men featured some Beach Major Series heavyweights such as 2019 World Championships silver medalists Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler, World Tour regulars Lars Flüggen and Nils Ehlers and Swiss wildcards Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson this weekend in Düsseldorf.
It was a dark horse duo, though, which took home the first gold medals of the country’s national season as eighth-seeded Dutch Steven van de Velde and up-and-coming German talent Lukas Pfretzschner defied the odds and climbed to the top of the podium.
Van de Velde, who regularly competes at the World Tour with Dutch partner and 2015 World Championship silver medalist Christiaan Varenhorst, and the 20-year-old Pfretzschner, a silver medalist at the 2018 Under-19 World Championship, took the tournament by storm and secured the title with a 21-17, 21-17 gold medal match win over Flüggen and Ehlers.
“Steven was in Hamburg training and national team coach (and former player) Eric Koreng suggested we should play together,” Pfretzschner, who’s soon expected to rejoin regular partner Robin Sowa, who’s dealing with a shoulder injury, explained. “It was very exciting to see that we managed to play against some very good teams here. We had a slow start, but figured things out and Steven helped me a lot.”
Thole and Wickler, who paired up for the first time in the season, shared the third-place finish with Sven Winter and Austrian Julian Hörl, who replaced the German’s regular partner Alexander Walkenhorst.
The weekend was twice as special for the Pfretzschner family as Lukas' younger brother Simon paired with Milan Sievers to be one of the three teams which secured their spots at the German Championships, which will happen from September 3-6, with a third-place finish at the “Road to Timmendorfer Strand” tournament which happened simultaneously in Düsseldorf. Armin Dollinger/Simon Kulzer and Manuel Harms/Richard Peemüller also guaranteed their places in the event.
The German Tour remains in Düsseldorf for another couple of weeks and the women will return to the sand next weekend after the victory of Swiss Joana Heidrich and Anouk Vergé-Dépré in the season-opening event. The tournament will mark the return of Rio 2016 Olympic champion Kira Walkenhorst, who will pair with 18-year-old Anna-Lena Grüne.