Rome, Italy, September 4, 2019 - It took them five years, but Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz finally made it. Together since 2015, the Austrians were looking for a big international result and they got one when they won the bronze medals of the 2019 European Championships last month in Moscow. They now play for their next big success.
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In the Russian capital, the 25-year-old Ermacora and the 23-year-old Pristauz marched all the way to the semifinals with impressive victories, including one against the reigning world champions and home favorites Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov.
“It’s the best result of our careers so far and we’re super happy,” Pristauz explained. “We’ve been together for five years and it’s nice to see that we are reaping the benefits and that we’re headed in the right direction. To be honest, we didn’t expect it, but we played an incredible tournament and I’d say we really earned it.”
It has been a long road for the Austrians, who have played in 40 World Tour events since 2016, including this week’s World Tour Finals in Rome, starting most of them in the qualifier and yet to win their first medal.
“It’s not easy, especially in Austria, where there are so many good teams,” Pristauz added. “It’s not like an experienced player will pick you up and help you to make big steps forward with his points, so it’s a long process and Martin and I improved every season. When we first got together we were the ninth team in the country and now we’re a lot closer to the top.”
Moritz Pristauz digs during a qualifier match in Rome
Becoming the top team in their country is the next goal they’re actually aiming for. Currently, the label belongs to veterans Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst, who won the silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in Vienna and represented their nation in the last three Olympics. With Doppler turning 39 in two days and Horst celebrating his 37th birthday at the end of the year, though, it could be time for a change of guard and Ermarcora and Pristauz are well aware of that.
The players, who are nicknamed ‘the M&M’s’, are very popular in Austria and have multiple sponsors and even their own brand of sports clothes named BVTEP (Beach Volleyball Team Ermarcora Pristauz). But they are looking to be the face of the sport in one of the most passionate beach volleyball locations in the country.
“We want to become the number one team in Austria,” Pristauz stated. “It’s an insane place for beach volleyball and every time we host the Vienna Major you can see ads with Doppler and Horst’s faces all over the city. I think right now there are two teams already knocking on their doors – Seidl/Waller and us. Competition is always good as it forces you to give your best every day or someone will come and take your spot. For us, that’s great motivation.”