Larnaka, Cyprus, July 27, 2016 – With two wins in qualification on Wednesday Latvia’s Mihails Samoilovs and Kristaps Smits made it to the main draw of the FIVB U19 World Championships in Larnaka, Cyprus. And this is just the beginning, said the younger brother of beach volleyball star Aleksandrs Samoilovs. “Now we want to win the pool and of course play in the final.”
Mihails Samoilovs (18) grew up idolizing his older brother Aleksandrs (31), watching him train hard with their dad and win tournament after tournament. “When I was young I always watched him training. I watched him grow into one of the best beach volleyball players of the world. And I realized at a young age I can be like him too.”
His big brother won the U21 World Championships in 2005 with Martins Plavins. Mihails Samoilovs is determined to follow his brother’s footsteps or maybe do even better, starting by winning the U19 this week.
On Wednesday he and Kristaps Smits took the first hurdle by booking solid wins over Iranians Mohammadreza Hazratpour and Salar Ghanidelghahramanlou (21-13, 21-13) and Australia’s Adam Kitto and Bryce Poland (21-13, 21-18) in qualification.
It took a bit of adjusting on the first day since it was the first time the two Latvians played together. They only had five days of practice together and Samoilovs had to move to the right side instead of playing left. “I am left-handed, but Kristaps likes to play on the left side, so we decided I would change sides”, he said.
“There’s no pressure being a Samoilovs”, he continued. “Because nobody knows me here. We played CEV before with different partners, but this is the first FIVB event for both of us. Only when they see my name on my shorts, they ask some questions. But during the game I don’t think about it. I just want to show my best, to show that the Samoilovs family is in control.”
Although he has equal ambition, Mihails is a totally different player than his brother. “I am left-handed, I am taller, 2.01, Aleksandrs is 1.96. My brother likes to hit hard. I like to play smart, cut or hit down the line. And he’s more a blocker than me. Although I am taller I prefer playing defence. With my other partner Nasonovs, I like to play defence, although he is shorter than me. But here I will have to adjust to blocking.”
His brother Aleksandrs is in Klagenfurt with their dad, who has been coaching both of his sons for years. They are preparing for the Rio Olympics. Did his brother give him any advice before leaving?
“I trained with him a couple of days ago. He just said show your best, but what can he say? For him this is nothing special because he has had hundreds of tournaments like this. But he usually gives me mental advice. He tells me to stay calm, don’t be aggressive, don’t go crazy and then the results will come.”
Apart from the second seeded Latvians, top seeds Pisco De Abreu Lima and Felipe De Oliveira Miranda of Brazil also remained undefeated and advanced to the main draw, as did Germany’s Dan John and Simon Kulzer (6th) and USA’s Clay Messenger and Robert Mullahey (5th).
Australia's Adam Kitto and Bryce Poland and Russia's Aleksei Kirienko and Anton Saraev were added to the main draw as lucky losers.
The men’s U19 main draw will feature 32 teams from over 30 different countries. Among them are the reigning U17 world champs Yves Haussener and Florian Breer from Switzerland and the U18 European champs Timothée Platre and Rémi Bassereau from France.
The city of Larnaka also hosted the U19 in 2012, when Poland’s Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak took first place and Lithuania’s Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte won the women’s tournament. Two years ago Larnaka also staged the U21 World Championships.Quick Links• U19 World Championships Larnaka, Cyprus 2016 - website• Qualification - Men• Qualification - Women• Main draw - Men• Main draw - Women