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

Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz_01

The new Austrian pair of Robin Seidl & Moritz Pristauz are about to head off to Mexico, where they will make their team debut on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour as the 2023 season resumes with the La Paz Challenge next week, from March 16 through 19.

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After deciding to join forces last month, Seidl & Pristauz went on a 10-day training camp in Tenerife and are now ready to hit the competition courts, chasing Beach Pro Tour success and looking ahead towards qualifying for the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Tlaxcala and next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Their decision to team up came up as a bit of a surprise. Seidl had been playing with Philipp Waller for over four years and they even appeared together at the first Beach Pro Tour event of the season, the Doha Elite16 in early February. Pristauz had been partners with Martin Ermacora even longer, since 2015. And then came the news that the two pairs were switching partners, with Seidl joining forces with Pristauz and Waller teaming up with Ermacora.

“Moritz and I had some talks after some tournaments last season about how everything goes, how everything is... But actually we were never really considering any immediate changes before Paris, because it would be just stressful. It was not making much sense. But with some issues in the other team, we sat down again in February and we discussed it. It was the first time it came to the table that maybe we should do it right now and finally we decided it,” 33-year-old Seidl told Volleyball World.

“One of Martin’s injuries got me thinking. Then the opportunity came that I could play with Robin, and it was kind of like now or never, because the Olympic season had already started,” 26-year-old Pristauz added. “So I took it...”

Robin Seidl in action at the Doha Elite16 in February

Robin Seidl in action at the Doha Elite16 in February

Robin Seidl’s international career began in 2009, when he started playing on the European tour and the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour with Alexander Huber and represented Austria at the FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championship in Blackpool with Jorg Wutzl. Seidl & Huber earned their first continental medals in 2011 and 2012, and their first World Tour medal was a 2013 Fuzhou Open bronze. Eventually they qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics, where they finished with a ninth place.

After the Games in Rio, Seidl went through several partners - Tobias Winter, Christoph Dressler and Philipp Waller – and brought up his overall World Tour record to two golds, a silver and a bronze. In 2022, Seidl & Waller picked up a Baden Futures silver and a Cape Town Elite16 fourth place as their best results on the Beach Pro Tour. In May, they reached number five in the FIVB World Ranking and were in number 12, when they split last month and Seidl teamed up with Pristauz.

“Deep inside I feel it is about how we both see the game, how we both want to be on the court. We are so similar to each other that we can just be ourselves on the court, and support each other, communicate and play in a way that’s just us,” Seidl went on about the decision to join forces with Pristauz. “I think this is a strong point to make another step to fulfilling ourselves and our dreams on the court, to be who we are and be able to give it all. In this combination we will be able to do that. I am really excited and I am really looking forward to it. And yeah, we are going to go for it.”

Moritz Pristauz sets the ball during the Espinho Challenge semifinal

Moritz Pristauz sets the ball during the Espinho Challenge semifinal

Pristauz earned his first international medal, a silver at the 2013 CEV U18 European Championship, alongside Paul Buchegger. Three years later, he got another one at the U22 European Championship, this time with Maximilian Trummer. In 2017, again with Buchegger, Pristauz took a U22 continental bronze. His first international medal with Ermacora as a teammate was another silver at the 2017 CEV Satellite in Siofok. The more prestigious podiums came later on – a 2019 European Championship bronze and a three-star silver at Quinzhou 2019 on the World Tour. They also made a great run at one of the Cancun four-star tournaments in 2021, from the qualifiers all the way to the semifinals. On the Beach Pro Tour last year, Pristauz & Ermacora picked up two Challenge medals, an Espinho silver and a Doha bronze. In November 2022, they reached number 12 in the World Ranking, and in February 2023 they were number 16, when Pristauz decided to join forces with Seidl.

“This was not a personal decision. It was solely a sports decision,” Pristauz pointed out. “I think that with Robin we can be even better. Of course, otherwise I would not have done it. But the way we can play together can still put us to the next level and I am really looking forward to being on the court and playing the first tournaments. I think Robin and I have a lot of similar philosophies when it comes to the game. We think alike and we have a positive mindset, similar goals on the court and ideas what the team should look like. We are very happy that it worked out and we are really looking forward to the first Beach Pro Tour tournaments.”

Seidl & Pristauz are set to compete at next week’s La Paz Challenge, where they will be seeded directly into the main draw. They are pre-seeded 10th according to their entry points. A week later, at the Tepic Elite16 tournament in Mexico, they will try to make it to the main draw through the qualifiers. The new Austrian pair have also registered for the three Beach Pro Tour events in Brazil next month.

“The short-term goal was, of course, to practice together, to find each other on the court, to find the chemistry, to get everything right so that we are ready for the first tournament,” said Pristauz. “And then, of course, the Olympics is the big goal, as well as the World Championship in Mexico and the European Championship in our home town Vienna. There is going to be a lot of nice tournaments and we’re just trying to play as much as possible and get as many points as possible for Olympic qualification.”