2017-07-28 17:08:00 CET
They may be rookies, but Hughes and Claes are dreaming big in the World Championships
Whisper it quietly, but Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes are confident that maybe, just maybe, they can do something special at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1.
The Americans arrive in Vienna with nothing to lose and everything to gain and, while others may expect them to sit under the radar, they believe they cannot be taken lightly.
This marks the first year as a partnership for the 22- and 21-year-olds, already impressing across the tour to secure their place in the biggest tournament in beach volleyball – a prize not even they believed possible.
And while they are aware they still have a way to go before reaching their peak, Hughes and Claes know they are still capable of making sure their first World Championships doesn’t end prematurely.
“We’re going to have to work our butts off, this is our first year together and we’re out here growing and learning, finding things out together and it’s a great learning experience for us,” said Claes.
“When the season started we didn’t think we would be able to get here, so after some good results we’ve given ourselves a great opportunity to experience it all.
“On one hand, we’re excited to take it all in but we know what we’re capable of and we feel we can make that podium. It would be a dream come true to get there.
“We play for each other, play for the coach and play for the USA, so there’s no way we won’t give it our all.”
It’s so far, so good for the American duo, victorious in their tournament opener against Canadians Taylor Pischke and Jamie Lynn Broder.
Their positive gameplan and execution was reflected in the deserved 21-15, 21-14 scoreline too, a perfect start to what could be their launch pad onto the world stage.
But in a tournament with high prizes and rewards they could only dream of just last year, the chance to appear in front of thousands of Viennese fans on Red Bull Beach Arena could potentially top it all off.
“Our mindset is to come out and make sure we play every game to the best of our ability,” said Hughes.
“We are the new team and teams have no idea about us. We’ve played in a couple of tournaments but not against many of the teams here, we’re coming to play as hard as we can and hopefully teams won’t know what to expect against us.
“We so badly want to play on the show court, we’ve been on there and hearing the noise walking by, we’ve been able to see how amazing it is, we want to be there so badly.
“We’re doing everything we can get there, it’s a massive amount of motivation.”
You can see how the American starlets get on in their next game, against Rwanda's Charlotte Nzayisenga and Denise Mutatsimpundu, by watching BeachStream on Saturday at 7pm CET. Click here to sign-up!
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