Challenge - La Paz, MEX - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News

Martin Ermacora & Philipp Waller

Martin Ermacora & Philipp Waller haven’t had much time to prepare for their team debut after finding out that their previous partners had made a decision to team up with each other. Yet, the new Austrian pairing approach their Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour debut at the La Paz Challenge this week highly motivated and confident that they will be a team “nobody really wants to play against.”

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Just until a month ago, 28-year-old Ermacora was in a team with Moritz Pristauz, while 27-year-old Waller was partnering with Robin Seidl. However, Seidl & Pristauz decided to form a new duo on the road to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, so Ermacora & Waller decided to follow suit and team up.

“The separation of the teams came as a big surprise for me. Philipp and I didn’t know anything in advance. They just informed us that they would build a new team,” Ermacora told Volleyball World. “After some phone calls with the coaches we quickly came to the decision that Philipp and I together was the best solution possible. Now we‘re happy to start this journey together. I‘m quite confident to say that we‘ll be the better team, and can’t wait to compete together. Philipp and I already know each other quite well so it won’t take a long time to find our rhythm as a team.”

“It was a really surprising moment for me too,” Waller confirmed. “But now I am really happy and I am already focusing on the future. Let’s see what it brings. I think Martin is a really big blocker, and a really good blocker, so I am looking forward to this. The short-term goal is to quickly connect together, to find our rhythm for this special season and make the best out of it.”


Martin Ermacora saves the ball

Martin Ermacora started representing Austria at various age-category world and European competitions in 2011 and his best result was achieved at the 2012 FIVB U19 Beach Volleyball World Championship in Larnaka, where he and Lukas Stranger finished fourth.

He started playing together with Pristauz in 2015 and that same year they made their debut on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour with a ninth-place finish at the Xiamen Open. The two earned their first international medal with a second place at the 2017 CEV Satellite in Siofok. Later on, Ermacora & Pristauz picked up a silver at the 2019 Quinzhou 3-star on the World Tour, a 2019 CEV European Championship bronze in Moscow and two medals on the 2022 Beach Pro Tour, a bronze at the Doha Challenge and a silver at the Espinho Challenge, reaching number 12 in the FIVB World Ranking in November.

Philipp Waller made his international debut in 2012 and the following year he and Paul Buchegger achieved a fifth-place finish at the 2013 U19 World Championship in Porto. His rookie appearance on the World Tour was in late 2017, when he and Julian Horl played at the Aaalsmeer 1-star. In 2018, Waller played a few tournaments with Thomas Kunert, before partnering with Seidl in June.

As soon as July, Waller & Seidl picked up their first international medal as a team after topping the podium at the Haiyang 3-star. In 2020, they collected another gold at the Baden 1-star. Their best results on the Beach Pro Tour in 2022 were a Baden Futures silver and a Cape Town Elite16 fourth place. In May, they reached number five in the World Ranking. Their last tournament together was the Doha Elite16 in early February.


Philipp Waller ready for action

Once Ermacora & Waller made the decision to join forces, they had about a month to train as a team and prepare for their first appearance on the court in La Paz.

“We had almost two weeks in Vienna and then we went to Tenerife for a training camp to practice outdoors for 10 days,” Ermacora said. “We quickly found rhythm on and off the court and we‘re having a really good time.”

“I think that, given the circumstances, our preparation was quite good,” Waller added. “We didn’t have a lot of time, but we know each other and we think we are ready to compete. We’ll see where we stand after this first tournament...”

Ermacora & Waller are already in Mexico. Pre-seeded 11th on entry points, they will start the La Paz Challenge straight from the main draw. The Austrians are also entered in the qualifiers at next week’s Tepic Elite16 in Mexico. They are also set to compete at next month’s three Beach Pro Tour events in Brazil, the Challenge tournaments in Itapema and Saquarema and the Elite16 in Uberlandia.

“I don’t think we have many expectations. We want to show what we can, enjoy playing and then we’ll see how it goes. But we are both motivated to start the season together here in Mexico,” said Waller.

“We know that we can‘t have the highest expectations, because we have just started and some things need some time,” Ermacora agreed. “But nevertheless we both feel very confident that we‘re a pair nobody really wants to play against. Especially our block-defence is working really well. Our main goal is to qualify for Paris and win medals on the Beach Pro Tour. All in all, we can’t wait to start the Olympic qualification together and I think Mexico is a really good place for a new beginning.”