2018-06-28 09:15:00 CET
The former basketball player and his partner Sean Rosenthal are headed to the Swiss Alps
Playing in a Beach Volleyball Major Series event is a privilege not every beach volleyball player gets to enjoy. It could take several months or even years for newcomers in the sport to collect enough entry points to put themselves directly in a main draw of one of the top tournaments on the planet, but some of them manage to get there faster.
That was the case with American Chase Budinger. The former basketball player who competed in the NBA and transitioned to beach volleyball just in January is set to compete in the Swatch Gstaad Major between July 10-15 as him and partner Sean Rosenthal were awarded a wildcard for the tournament.
“It might be early for a player like me to be in a Major, but I also think it’s good timing because we are playing better as a team now,” Chase said. “We are very confident that we are ready for the challenge and I’m just excited to be able to compete against the best players in the world.”
Chase, 30, has played in just two World Tour tournaments so far, finishing 33rd in the four-star event in Huntington Beach and ninth in the three-star Lucerne Open, both in May. Knowing that, it gets easier to understand his excitement with the opportunity to play in the Swiss Alps.
Not the result I wanted for my first international tournament but we've got to start somewhere. Looking forward to learning from my mistakes and getting better every day. Next stop Lucerne!
468 Likes, 9 Comments - Chase Budinger (@budinger10) on Instagram: "Not the result I wanted for my first international tournament but we've got to start somewhere...."
But the wildcard was also hugely welcomed by the veteran Rosenthal as the two-time Olympian received the confirmation of it in the day he celebrated his 38th birthday.
“He kept saying all day what a wonderful present he got,” the former basketball player laughed. “We were super pumped when we knew it because we were not very confident we would get it. It’s a great opportunity for us to show our improvement over the last couple of months.”
Now that their places are assured in the event, they want to make sure they take full advantage of it. Chase and Sean have been working hard in the sands of Hermosa Beach under the guidance of veteran Brazilian coach Marcos Miranda to boost their ranking points with a good performance in Gstaad.
532 Likes, 2 Comments - Sean Rosenthal (@seanrosenthal) on Instagram: "It all starts with a pass... and then a perfect set by my partner. #bumpsetspike"
The 2.01m-tall blocker Chase, however, is very aware that the he’s about to learn a lot just from watching and interacting with the best player in the world in less than a month-time.
“The biggest thing for us is to make the most of this opportunity,” he added. “Try and do well so we can improve our points. I think I will get a lot of experience out of this tournament by being around the best players for this week.”
If things don't go to plan in Switzerland in July, the former NBA player will at least get to enjoy one of the most amazing atmospheres in beach volleyball at the Swiss Alps, the favorite location for most of the players competing in the World Tour.
And he’s already done his homework.
“Every player I’ve talked to said it’s so beautiful there,” Chase remarked. “Rosie has talked a lot about this tournament being one of the best and the photos I have seen of Gstaad are just stunning. Every player said the Major Series put together very organized and exciting tournaments for the players and the fans and I can’t wait to be there.”
See you up in the mountains, Chase!