Nicolas Capogrosso had a big decision to make after he returned from the Tokyo Olympics. Should he continue on his stable and successful path with Julian Azaad, which made of them the first Argentinean men’s beach volleyball team at the Games since Beijing 2008, or was it time to make a move that would be considered a bold one by many, but that would put him in position to dream bigger?
Capogrossos join forces for bigger goals
The new Argentinean team are set to debut this week on the South American Tour
Published 08:05, 05 Jan 2022
It wasn’t an easy call for the 26-year-old, 2.03m-tall blocker, but he eventually made a decision. Capogrosso is now ready to enter the 2022 season with a new partner, who will be his younger brother, 19-year-old Tomas.
“It would have been a lot easier for me to stay with Julian, no question,” Nicolas told Volleyball World. “I’m sure we would continue to have a lot of success at the continental level and would have a fair shot at qualifying for Paris 2024. But that wasn’t enough, and looking deep inside, I found out that I was willing to risk all we had accomplished together to chase something bigger. I don’t want to compete internationally, I want to contend. My decision was followed by some criticism and even costed me some friendships, but I figured it was the only way for me to remain motivated and wake up every morning and have a big and challenging goal to work towards.”
With Azaad, Nicolas won bronze medals at the 2019 Pan-American Games and at a World Tour event in Agadir, Morocco, in 2018. His brother, Tomas, has very limited international experience, having played in just five international events, all in 2021, but showed some promise by taking bronze in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, with Bautista Amieva.
“I believe Tomas is the best option I had in Argentina to fight for this challenging goal,” said Nicolas. “Picking him wasn’t a difficult decision. He’s a very complete player, who is young, but very professional. With him being a 1.97m-tall defender, with great technique, I think that will add a lot to our team. When I first thought about it, our dad couldn’t really understand why I was willing to give up on everything, but I told him that I believe this was the right thing to do and that I wanted to think big and be in peace with myself, even if this decision costs me a chance of playing at the World Championship this year or the Paris Games. Playing with my brother is a dream come true, I’m enjoying it a lot and hopefully the results will come.”
With Tomas at his side, Nicolas will have a key role in the team as the most experienced player of the two. The Argentinean has competed internationally since 2014 and has 36 World Tour events under his belt.
His idea of leadership is to build on his experience to make decisions, but also to leave enough room for Tomas to feel comfortable on the court and develop his game.
“I understand my role as the most experienced of the two, but we’re building a team where both of us have the same importance and responsibility,” Nicolas explained. “I want Tomas to feel free to play and won’t put any limits on him. He’ll make mistakes and learn and that’s how it is for everyone. We have a great relationship on and off the court, he’s a great teammate and friend and I believe our blood connection will be an advantage.”
The Capogrossos will be on the same side of the court for the first time this weekend, when the Argentinean city of San Juan hosts the second event of the 2021-22 South American Tour. Their biggest goal for the year, however, is to climb the rankings of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour in the event’s inaugural season and put themselves in position to compete for a spot at the Paris Games in the future.
“The changes that we’ll see in international volleyball in 2022 will be another challenge for us,” Nicolas added. “We’ll probably start in the Challenger division and will try to move up to the Elite 16 at some point. We really expect this new format to be a good one for the sport and it looks to be really fair to everyone involved.”