Ostrava, Czech Republic, June 1, 2019 – With the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship set to get underway in less than a month in Hamburg, the participating teams are keen to start getting closer and closer to their best shape as they travel the World Tour in the buildup to the big event in Germany. That’s exactly the case with Finland’s Taru Lahti-Liukkonen & Anniina Parkkinen, who spoke to fivb.com on the premises of the four-star J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2019 about their own potential to do well at Hamburg 2019.
“We have a lot of potential in our team, so we believe we can go really far,” Lahti stated. “But it’s more important to stay in the moment and take it game by game.”
Taking it game by game, they have done well so far at Ostrava. In the company of top-seeded Czechs Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova, Lahti & Parkkinen won their Pool А with two victories and are getting ready to battle for their spot in the quarterfinals. In their first game, the Finns shut out Switzerland’s Nina Betschart & Tanja Hueberli, and in their second, they managed a 2-1 comeback against the tournament’s sensations Diana Lunina & Maryna Samoday ogf Ukraine, while both of these opponents defeated favourites Hermannova & Slukova.
“We had a good first day. Especially the first match was pretty good from our side - a good win against the really good team of Switzerland,” Lahti commented. “Our first set against Ukraine wasn’t that good, but then we talked about going step by step, ball by ball, and that worked quite well. We made really good teamwork, we supported each other and that was really important.”
Lahti & Parkkinen played at their first international tournament together in 2013, when they finished ninth at the U22 European Championship in Varna. The next year they were already fourth at the U23 World Championship in Myslowice, but then, through 2017, there were a lot of partner switches between the Finnish players, without any actual permanent pairings.
At the 2017 World Championship in Vienna Taru Lahti played with Riikka Lehtonen and finished ninth. So for her Hamburg 2019 will be the second appearance at such a big event. “The World Championships are always very important, but this one is more special, because Olympic ranking is open,” she said.
For Anniina Parkkinen, who is only 22 years old now, this will be the rookie participation in a senior World Championship.
“I am really excited!” she exclaimed. “It’s my first time at the World Championships. We’ve heard that Hamburg is a great place to play. Our families are also going to be there to support us, so it’s going to be a special tournament.”
Obviously, Taru and Anniina have eventually found in each other the perfect partner. Since the start of 2018, they have exclusively been playing as a team and have earned their first World Tour medals as such – silver at the 2018 Tokyo three-star and bronze at the 2019 Hague four-star.
“Now I am playing with Anniina and I am really happy to go to Hamburg with her,” Lahti pointed out. “Last year we had some difficult moments, but now we know what we need during the game and how to support each other, which really improves our game. We have good technical skills and it is the mental things that we are adding to get better and better.”
“I am really happy to play with Taru too,” Parkkinen added. “We have something good here, between us. She is good at the net, a monster blocker, so it’s easy to play behind her.”
But taking it game by game, for now they have to focus on their next match at Ostrava, a round of 16 clash with Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti & Panagiota Karagkouni, who have also been having a great tournament so far.
“This is a really nice place here, a unique venue! We are really excited and hungry to play more and go as far as we can go.” Anniina concluded.