Vienna, Austria, July 30, 2019 - A year ago, on the day after her 22nd birthday, Anniina Parkkinen of Finland opened the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch by teaming with Taru Lahti for a victory.
Tuesday, Parkkinen’s 23rd birthday, she once again found herself on the sand court at the Donauinsel. Once again, the duo was victorious.
They opened the 2019 edition of the tournament with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-10) victory over Martina Bonnerova and Martina Maixnerova from the Czech Republic.
Sadly, there was a catch. In 2018, the victory over Elize Maia and Maria Clara Salgado of Brazil advanced them into the main draw. They went on to win once in pool play to advance but had their tournament end with a defeat to April Ross and Alix Klineman of the United States.
“Vienna is a really nice place to play and I am very happy to be here with Taru,” Parkkinen said. “Last year we also started in qualification. I think we had only one game and won it, and we were hoping to do the same today.”
Birthday or not, there was no time to celebrate their morning win.
“We still have another game today,” Parkkinen said. “So, we need to recover for that and prepare for the next match.”
In a match that looked even on paper - Parkkinen and Lahti were seeded ninth in the qualifier – it was a frustrating afternoon in a 2-0 (21-18, 21-13) defeat to Germany’s Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider, who were seeded eighth in the qualifier.
In their previous four FIVB World Tour events, Parkkinen and Lahti entered seeded directly into the main draw. Their best result was a fifth-place finish in Ostrava, Czech Republic and a ninth-place result in Espinho, Portugal.
Their best result of the calendar came in The Hague, Netherlands, where they won five of six matches and captured the bronze medal with a win over Ross and Klineman.
Anniina Parkkinen (right) and Taru Lahti celebrated a bronze medal win in The Hague at the January FIVB World Tour event.
Along the way, they knocked out the reigning European champions Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the host country.
But by the time Parkkinen’s birthday rolls around, she knows exactly how she wants to spend it, with a week in Vienna.
“Yes,” she said with a smile. “For this tournament.”