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2018-07-10 20:02:00 CET

Czech-ing out new heights

David Schweiner and Ondrej Perušič enter the Gstaad Major main draw on Wednesday a year after missing out completely

Ondrej (left) and David were all smiles after reaching the main draw in Fort Lauderdale earlier this seasonOndrej (left) and David were all smiles after reaching the main draw in Fort Lauderdale earlier this season

Twelve months ago, David Schweiner and Ondrej Perušič arrived at the 2017 Gstaad Major and didn’t spend a single competitive minute on the sand.

“We were second on the reserve list, we didn’t get to play qualification and we stayed here for a few days on vacation,” says Ondrej.

But a year in beach volleyball is a long time. On Wednesday the happy Czech duo will line-up in the main draw alongside some of the world’s best players when the Major in the Mountains really kicks off.

And the team do so in the form of their lives. After bursting onto the scene with a shock win in Fort Lauderdale in March, the pair from Prague have finished fifth, second, ninth, fourth and fifth in their last five tournaments. The performances have lifted David and Ondrej kicking and screaming from 50th in the world and up to the dizzy heights of 12th. It means – for now – that the days of struggling to qualify for the big tournaments are over.

“It’s been a massive change for us in the last year,” says David, or ‘Dave’, as he is known. “We’ve worked hard on our consistency and it’s really starting to show.”

After winning their second World Tour medal with a silver in Mersin, Turkey in May, David and Ondrej came close to winning another medal on home sand at their home tournament in Ostrava two weeks ago.

❗️❗️❗️Neuvěřitelné 4. misto z domácího turnaje v té největší světové konkurenci. Jsme nadšeni z našeho konstantního výkonu napříč turnajem a i tím dlouhodobým. Děkujeme Ostravo za všechno, byla si úžasná! Gratulujeme našim holkám @bara.maki.beach ke zlatu 🏅!!!@fivbvolleyball @ceskyvolejbal @olympijskytym @ostrava_beach_open @atexsport @4fresh.cz @vitalyte.cz @beachclubstrahov . 🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐🏐❗️❗️❗️4th place it is. Unforgetable moments in Ostrava ❤️ Thank you home crowd. You rock! #perundave #beach #czechboys #czechteam #instagood #instafame #givesyouwings #worldtour #support #sponsor

483 Likes, 7 Comments - Team Perušič & Schweiner (@czechteam_perusicschweiner) on Instagram: "❗️❗️❗️Neuvěřitelné 4. misto z domácího turnaje v té největší světové konkurenci. Jsme nadšeni z..."

However, it’s a sign of the sensible level-headedness they possess that it is consistency and not medals that strives the pair on to success at this, still fledging, point in their careers.

“Beach volleyball changes so quickly,” says Ondrej. “We missed bronze in Ostrava but we would rather finish fourth more often than lose in qualification. We know if you have a two or three bad performances then you can slip quickly back into qualification. It’s our goal to be consistent and keep up the results.”

The 2017 season saw the duo, who first met each other as 14-year-olds, finish outside the top 10 in five of their seven tournaments. It begs the question, what’s changed?

“Our coach,” Dave and Ondrej smile and say simultaneously. The man behind the Czech success is Italian Andrea Tomatis, a man whose last tournament on the World Tour came at the Klagenfurt Major in 2016.

“He came in and changed everything,” says Schweiner. “When he was a player he was really smart and that has helped us. He told us how to react and adjust our tactics during matches, but to start with he told us the basics and that was a good way to start.

“He’s taken us from not being able to qualify to being in the main draw for four and five-star tournaments.”

That´s us❗️#perundave and @andreatomatis78. We think this picture describes our team perfectly. . Máme hrozně rádi tuhle fotku. Tak nějak popisuje náš tým a vztah k trenérovi. Líbí se vám (fotka nebo trenér)? 😂 #givesyouwings @atexsport @vitalyte.cz @4fresh.cz @niceboy.cz @redbullcz 📸Václav Kohelka/RAUL!

294 Likes, 5 Comments - Team Perušič & Schweiner (@czechteam_perusicschweiner) on Instagram: "That´s us❗️#perundave and @andreatomatis78. We think this picture describes our team perfectly. ...."

Having surged head-first up the world rankings – and with half-an-eye already on Olympic qualification – the likeable team are entering uncharted territory. But they’re loving every minute of it.

“It’s a great feeling to play and compete with players that we usually watch on YouTube!” laughs Dave. “We know that we are able to go up against some of the world’s best players but we do so in each game without putting pressure on ourselves.”

The contrast between this season and last is clear but their outlook when it comes to knowing their place in the beach volleyball hierarchy is refreshingly honest.

“In the past we’ve been underdogs but now there are times when we are favorites but you can’t just think you’re the best if you enjoy one good result,” explains Ondrej. “You might beat a team once in 10 games but you can’t go around shouting you’re the best. You would be kidding yourself and that’s why we don’t put ourselves under pressure, because we know we haven’t reached the level of the top, top players yet.

“We know ourselves. It’s dangerous when you think you’re at the level you’re not. That can lower your focus.”

Having ticked off a number of their seasonal goals this season – such as qualifying for the European Championships and improving their world ranking – you can be sure this wise-head-on-young-shoulders pairing can continue to defy the odds and improve their record even further in Gstaad this week.

And whatever their result here in the Swiss Alps, it’ll always be an improvement on last season’s holiday…

Great start of the season‼️@beachmajorseries in Fort Lauderdale, thank you 👏🏼. We wish all tournaments will be like this. 🔝Mission Qatar was not succesful at all. Not because we played bad, but because we missed 2 flights and came to Doha on the qualification day 😒. Feeling a bit bitter about it, but what doesn ´ t kill you, makes you stronger!!! Thanks everyone who was cheering for us. . . . #czechteam #perundave #czechusout #picofthwday @fivbvolleyball

186 Likes, 6 Comments - Team Perušič & Schweiner (@czechteam_perusicschweiner) on Instagram: "Great start of the season‼️@beachmajorseries in Fort Lauderdale, thank you 👏🏼. We wish all..."

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