Courtesy of Beach Volleyball Major Series Media Service Team
Swiss star following the golden footsteps of her heroes
Anouk Vergé-Dépré is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her favorite players at this year’s Swatch Major Gstaad.
The 26-year-old and teammate Joana Heidrich go in search of an elusive Gstaad cowbell having come agonizingly close to winning one last year – only to lose the bronze medal match in the Alps 12 months ago.
But having already collected a four-star silver medal in Itapema in May, the pair are aiming to make history by becoming the first Swiss women’s team to win a golden cowbell in the mountains.
So understandably, this tournament holds a special place in Anouk’s heart.
“I starting coming to Gstaad from a very young age,” remembers the 2016 Olympian. “My dad used to be a coach so I followed the beach circuit at a young age.
“I rooted for the Swiss team Kuhn/Benoît back then. I was a big fan of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede. They won a lot of cowbells there [six in total as a team] and I managed to get their signatures and their tops. I loved the energy in the stadium and I remember watching Kerri Walsh and Misty [May-Treanor] and years later I played Kerri at the Olympics with Isabelle [Forrer].
“Before my first Gstaad tournament in 2011 I was so excited. Every year I’m excited but I don’t get so nervous anymore. I can just enjoy it.”
Anouk and Jo enjoyed – eventually – their first match at this year’s tournament after beating Finland’s Riika Lehotnen and Niina Ahtiainen in three sets on the Center Court.
And Anouk is hoping their form can lead them to success in the Alps this year despite such competition at the first five-star tournament of the summer season.
“The level on the World Tour is very tight,” she said. “It’s the form on the day that decides whether you win or lose. We were happy with the silver in Brazil but the last two results [ninth in Ostrava and 17th in Warsaw] were not what we wanted. That makes us even more motivated for Gstaad.
“Last year a dream came true by playing in the final four. The cowbell is still on my wishlist.”
Anouk and Joana are not the only Swiss team hunting a cowbell, however, and their teammates Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart began their week in Gstaad with a win. The pair won in straight sets against the Czech Republic’s Krystyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova 21-13, 21-15.
But it wasn’t so easy for Laura Calouri and Dunja Gerson, though. The Swiss outsiders struggled to prevent joint-world number ones Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in a one-sided match on Center Court that the Canadians took 21-14, 21-11 in just 30 minutes.