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2017-08-03 18:02:00 CET

Youngsters earn praise from Olympic champs

Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes lose – but get acclaim from Laura Ludwig

Olympic champ Laura Ludwig believes Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes have a great future ahead of them after the German and teammate Kira Walkenhorst finally recorded their first win over the young Americans to book a place in the quarterfinals.

The two teams met for the first time last summer in Klagenfurt, with Claes and Hughes coming out on top in a shock victory 12 months ago.

But the tables were turned in a crucial last-16 clash on the Red Bull Beach Arena in Vienna.

And Ludwig had nothing but high praise for the 22-year-old Hughes and 21-year-old Claes.

“They are a fresh, young team with nothing to lose,” said last year’s Copacabana hero. “They look so relaxed on court every time they play and we knew we had to be more aggressive to get past them.

“I love watch them on court, they can have fun but they are also so focused and, polite.

“For them to recorded a ninth place finish in the World Championships is impressive at this age. For sure they have a bright future coming.”

Despite the defeat, Hughes was proud of the team’s efforts in what has been a fine first 12 months together on the World Tour – one which began with that famous win in Klagenfurt.

“It’s been an amazing year – we came straight from college and straight into playing the world’s best,” said Sara. “We’re the young ones but I look at Kelly and I know that we belong here. We will continue to fight and get on that podium.”

With not only maturity but now experience on their side, Hughes is desperate to go right to the top of the game.

“We’ll come back in two years’ time having learned more and our goal is keep learning and be number one in the world,” she said.

“It’s great playing in front of 10,000 people and it is really fun. Sometimes you can feed off it and other times you need to focus and only concentrate on your team and the opposition.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t beat them again but it’s been a great experience.”

The women’s quarterfinal line-up is now complete and Ludwig and Walkenhorst’s prize for their straight sets victory is a tie against Americans April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, who staged a fine comeback earlier in the day.

You can watch both of these matches again on our video on demand section of BeachStream and, of course, every quarterfinal live! Click here to sign-up.

Sara Hughes in action on the Red Bull Beach ArenaSara Hughes in action on the Red Bull Beach Arena

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