Larnaka, Cyprus, July 28, 2016 – When they started playing volleyball at the age of only five, Argentina’s Julia Diaz Neli and Virginia Beguiristain could have never dreamed they ended up at the FIVB U19 World Championships one day. But here they are in Larnaka, Cyprus, among the best young beach volleyball players of the world.
Their U19 campaign started in main draw on Thursday against Dutch Nika Daalderop and Mexime van Driel. Daalderop is one of the young rising stars in beach volleyball world. She is the reigning U20 European champion for two years now and she just recently made her World Tour debut at the Gstaad Majors (17th) with Joy Stubbe.
“Holland is a very good team”, said Diaz after losing 2-0 (21-9, 21-8) to the Dutch. “They are really strong and they are professionals. We are not. But we were not nervous, because we knew they were the better team, so we could play freely, without pressure. We’re not disappointed and happy with the way we played.”
Diaz and Beguiristain, both 17-year old and from Rosario, are best friends since childhood. Diaz: “We have been playing volleyball together since we were five years old. We started playing beach volleyball in 2013. We played one summer and this summer we picked it up again.”
Since November they have been training extra hard, Diaz explained. “We play on the national tour in Argentina. During a tournament in Mar del Plata the manager of the federation came to us and told us we could qualify for this tournament in Larnaka. So we started to train harder and harder, put in more hours and went to Peru to play the qualification tournament for the U19. We placed third and came here.”
Their goal in Larnaka is to get out of the pool. “I think the USA team is similar to Holland, very strong and professionals. But I think against the Czech Republic we have equal chances and maybe we can win”, Diaz said.
Whether they make it or not they will treasure this tournament. “This is a good experience for us and it will help us progress. We want to participate in other international competitions as well from here.”
Coming this far already has a lot to do with fellow-Argentineans Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug. Gallay paved the way for young girls like Diaz and Beguiristain when she and Virginia Zonta were the first women to represent Argentina in the Olympic beach volleyball tournament in London in 2012. In just two weeks Gallay will participate in the Rio Olympic Games, this time with Georgina Klug.
“We played with Georgina and Ana on the South-American tour. We love them”, Diaz said. “We also saw Ana play with Virginia at the London Olympic Games. They are my inspiration.”
“For me Klug is my favourite player. I can really identify with her. Because she also plays defence and she is very euphoric and very crazy. She doesn’t care who is on the other side of the net. She always plays with her heart.”Quick Links
• U19 World Championships Larnaka, Cyprus 2016 - website
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women