Ostrava, Czech Republic, May 30, 2019 – The upcoming 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship will be particularly special for the Heidrich family. This is the first time both Joana Heidrich and her younger brother Adrian Heidrich will represent Switzerland at the big event and will count on each other’s support during the tough competition in Hamburg.
“For sure!” 2016 Olympian Joana Heidrich confirmed. “For my brother it’s the first time. And for me it’s the fourth time, but it will be very special to have some family in Hamburg. Our mom will also come to watch and cheer for us, so it’s really great!”
24-year-old Adrian and 27-year-old Joana’s older brother Florian is also a volleyballer, but only indoor. He will take the trip to Hamburg to offer his support to his younger siblings as well.
“I am really excited,” Adrian said. “The World Championship was the biggest goal for us in 2019 and we are so happy to have qualified for it. It is a big event for both my sister and me, especially with both of us competing there and our brother coming to watch us as well. So it will be a party!”
Joana is a well-seasoned player. She has been on the World Tour since 2010. In 2011, she and Nina Betschart triumphed with the title at the U21 World Championship in Canada. Her first World Tour medals came after she teamed up with Nadine Zumkehr in 2014. Until Zumkehr’s retirement at the end of the 2016 season, the Swiss pair had two gold, two silver and two bronze medals, as well as a fifth place at the Rio Olympics. Then Heidrich joined forces with her current partner Anouk Verge-Depre, adding two more silver finishes to her World Tour record.
Adrian registered his first World Tour appearance in 2015, but it was in 2016 when he became a Tour regular, alongside teammate Gabriel Kissling. Since 2018 Heidrich has been partnering with Mirco Gerson and their first (and only, for now) medal came at the Lucerne three-star, where they capitalized on the home-court advantage and the support of the Swiss fans to claim bronze.
“Since my sister has a lot of experience at the World Championships, while this will be my first time, and it’s not your regular World Tour event, she can be of great support for me, mentally and morally, rather than technically, because men’s and women’s beach volleyball are so different. But to have family there is even more important than having a coach,” Adrian pointed out.
Both Joana and Adrian are currently competing at the four-star J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2019 on the FIVB World Tour. In the women’s main draw, 26th-seeded Heidrich & Verge-Depre mastered a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) victory over Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer & Madelein Meppelink, seeded seventh in their first pool match.
Joana Heidrich spikes against Madelein Meppelink at Ostrava
“It’s really great for our team, because we didn’t have an easy time the last four or five weeks, so it was really important for us. We played a great game and that’s why we are so happy!” Joana Heidrich commented. From this tournament, I expect that we find back our game, and we made a good step in the right direction with the first game. And I just want to play..., because I had an injury last year and I was away for a long time. The way back is not so easy and I need games to play and find back my routine.”
On the men’s side, 24th-seeded Heidrich & Gerson made a good start prompting a tie-breaker against Aleksandrs Samoilovs & Janis Smedins, but the ninth-seeded Latvians managed to snatch a 2-1 (21-17, 16-21, 15-9) win.
“Our immediate goal is to pass our pool successfully,” Adrian said. “In the end, a ninth-place finish (or better) would be good for us to improve on our 17th place from last year.”
Adrian Heidrich blocks a shot from Janis Smedins at Ostrava
Back on the topic of next month’s World Championship, Joana Heidrich shared their preparation plans ahead of Hamburg and the goals she and Verge-Depre will be after.
“After we play at the World Tour events in Ostrava and in Warsaw, we will spend one and a half week at home, where we will be practicing and preparing for the important event in Hamburg. We will continue training as normal and stay focused, but we also need to have fun out there,” she said. “Adrian and I train at the same place in Bern. When he has any questions, he can always come to me and ask me, and it also works the other way around. It is always great to play for Switzerland and I am really excited about it, but for me it is really special to have some family there, also playing the sport. My best World Championship result was the ninth place in Vienna and it would be nice to repeat it. Of course, everybody wants to go for a medal. When you go into the World Championship, you want to go out of it as the world champion. So our goal should be to keep playing for as long as we can...”
“Of course, you always want to win a medal and the best would be gold, but it’s my first World Championship, so I’d take anything. I hope it’s not the last place... I will play and have fun and that’s the most important,” wrapped it up Adrian.