7_BPT Rosarito - Women Main Draw USAvsSUI

Nina Brunner celebrates in Rosarito

For Tanja Huberli and Nina Brunner (formerly known by her maiden name Betschart), the new beach season has just started and they are excited about it.

“It's just a special feeling to be back on the court after a long break away from competition and realise that now it counts!” the number two team in the FIVB World ranking told volleyball.ch.

The Swiss team, consisting of 29-year-old blocker Huberli and 26-year-old defender Brunner, are also seeded second in the Rosarito Elite 16 main draw, making their Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour debut in Mexico this week. They explained why else this tournament is so special.

“It's the first tournament of the season,” they said. “There are also some new teams, which makes the start of the season even more exciting. It's always interesting to see where the other teams are and how you've developed against them. In addition, we are still getting familiar with the new Elite 16 format. And last, but not least, it is a new Olympic cycle that we are very much looking forward to. We have never been to Rosarito - so we are excited about visiting a new place too.”

Huberli and Brunner’s 2021 season was highlighted by their Sochi 4-star silver on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, their continental title at the European Championship in Vienna, their Swiss national title, and of course, their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. It was their sixth and arguably most successful season together as a team, but as they start their seventh, they certainly hope to keep progressing.

On Thursday, Huberli and Brunner had an excellent first set of the season, beating Emily Day and reigning Olympic champion April Ross by a wide margin. However, the Americans fought back to find their way to a 2-1 (13-21, 21-18, 15-7) turnaround. It is the Swiss duo’s first international competition since they played at last October’s World Tour Finals in Cagliari, so now their first objective in Rosarito is getting back into their game routine.

“Our main goal is to find our playing rhythm,” they said. “We don't worry too much about the new distribution of points and the associated performance pressure, and enjoy being able to play again. After a week without training together, this is, of course, even more true.”

Nina’s coronavirus quarantine is what hampered the last days of the team’s preparation period, but she and Tanja are still satisfied with the way the off-season went. Among other things, Huberli went back to school full time, Brunner got married, hence the new last name, and after all that, they went to a training camp in Tenerife.

“We are fit,” they said. “We had a good preparation without any major physical problems and we are excited to see where we are. Since Nina was in bed with coronavirus last week, we were unfortunately unable to fly to the training camp in Los Angeles as planned. Nevertheless, we are now looking forward to the new season!”

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