Karla Borger and Julia Sude had only been partners for a year before this season, and now they are back in action and aiming to add more lustre to their family names.
With the return of the German National Tour, the pair are back in the sand and they picked up a third-place finish in Dusseldorf. It means they are now poised to regain the momentum that appeared set to take them all the way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
They teamed up at the start of 2019 but have known each other for many years, latterly through training together as part of the German team and before then as children on the side of the court watching a parent in action.
Borger’s mother Cordula Borger played volleyball and beach volleyball and was a European champion in 1995. Her brothers Anton and Paul also play in the German League.
Sude’s father Burkhard Sude is known as ‘Mr Volleyball’ in Germany after a career in which he starred in first volleyball and then beach volleyball. He won 203 volleyball caps for Germany, five German Player of the Year awards and was the German beach volleyball coach at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
“We are in development and started practicing together at the beginning of January, but we have known each other a really long time,” Borger said when their teaming up was announced.
“Our parents used to play, so we have known each other since we were born. We were already practicing together as kids while our parents were playing so it is a long, long time. We have also played against each other pretty often.”
In the short time they have been together they have shown that they will be a threat to the top teams on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
They had played together once before, at the 2013 Berlin Grand Slam, but in their time as a fulltime pairing, they have twice appeared on a medal podium.
In April 2019 they won bronze at the Kuala Lumpur 3-Star, and in their final tournament before going into lockdown they won a first gold together, at the Qinzhou 3-Star in China with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) victory over USA’s Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat.
“We beat China (Wen Shuhui and Wang Jingzhe) in the semifinal in a very tight second set and now Brooke and Kerri in the final,” Sude said.
“We were in a bit of a flow and we served really well, I think this was the key in the end. We put a lot of pressure on them so they couldn’t side-out well, even though they played some awesome side-out balls that we didn’t expect, but our serve was the key.”
It may be some time before they can return to World Tour action, but while sport is taking its first steps after lockdown, Sude and Borger will be confident they can reach Tokyo 2020.
It will be Borger’s second Olympics after she and Britta Buthe qualified for Rio de Janeiro 2016, while Sude will be the second Olympian in her family if they do qualify.
“We used to play together in the sand as kids when we were out and about with beach volleyball with our parents,” Borger said, “so it was finally time for us to come together as experienced players as a solid team.”
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020