Reckermann and Rogers review - Part II

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 1, 2015 - In part II or our series with Olympic and world champions Todd Rogers and Jonas Reckermann, we speak to the 41-year-old American about this summer's FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015.

Rogers and Reckermann have both had Olympic and World Championship medals hung around their necks, and while Reckermann has now retired as a player and is working with former teammate Julius Brink to advise German Olympic athletes about the upcoming Rio 2016 Summer Games, Rogers and partner Stafford Slick are competing on the beach volleyball circuit and finished fourth at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open last week.

Rogers teamed with Phil Dalhausser to net the Gstaad 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship title in Switzerland, before topping the Olympic podium the next summer at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Less than 11 months later in Norway, Reckermann and Brink captured the gold medal at the Stavanger 2009 FIVB World Championships, highlighted by a win over Rogers and Dalhausser in the semifinals.

Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser
Rogers (right) and Dalhausser celebrate winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Three years later at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Reckermann and Brink upset the favoured Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego in the gold medal match. The Brazilians had captured the Rome 2011 World Championships where Alison and Cerutti defeated the Germans in a three-set semifinal match.

Rogers and Dalhausser faced Reckermann and Brink 13 times in FIVB-sanctioned events. Seven of the matches were in the final four phase of FIVB events, with the Americans winning six times. Overall, Rogers and Dalhausser won nine of the 13 meetings. Two of the four German wins were in the FIVB World Championships, where both matches were decided in the third set (16-14 in Stavanger and 18-16 in Rome), with both confrontations lasting over 60 minutes.

"It was a great rivalry," said Rogers. "Our last four matches were all three-setters in 2011. We were fortunate to win the last two. We avenged the loss in the Stavanger World Championships by winning the next seven meetings, but the Germans spoiled our bid for a second World Championship title in Rome."

Rogers said it was "a clash of the titans" when the two teams met. "The last four were epic matches," Rogers added. "It was disappointing that we did not meet them in the semifinals in London as we were upset by Lupo (Daniele) and Nicolai (Paolo) of Italy in the opening elimination round. If we could have met Jonas and Julius in the London semis, it would have been a classic."

As one of the oldest players on the 2015 FIVB World Tour - along with compatriot John Hyden (42 years old), and Emanuel Rego (42) and Ricardo Santos (40) of Brazil, Rogers posted impressive numbers during his FIVB career:

Todd Rogers - Quick facts

•    Medals at the Gstaad 2007 (gold) and Stavanger 2009 (bronze) World Championships with Dalhausser.
•    Two-time Olympian with Dalhausser, including a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Summer Games.
•    24-time FIVB World Tour gold medal winner, including one with Dax Holdren and 23 with Dalhausser.
•    Has competed in 121 FIVB World Tour events with seven different partners and compiled a 479-208 match mark (70 winning percentage, including winning 310 of 380 matches with Dalhausser for 81.6 per cent).
•    Advanced to 50 FIVB World Tour “final fours”.
•    Netted 42 FIVB World Tour podium placements, including seven silver and 11 bronze medals.
•    Teamed with Dalhausser to win a single-season record of nine international tournaments in 2010 with a 75-11 match record.
•    Four-time (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010) FIVB best defensive player.
•    Top setter in 2005 and most inspirational player in 2008.

Here are Rogers’ thoughts on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015:

What are your impressions about the men's pool makeup?  Which is the toughest pool?
Rogers: "Most of the pools I believe will play out to form. In this tournament, you have a lot of teams that get into the event not based on FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam finishes, but from either continental tours or playing in FIVB events like Opens. That being said, I think Pool F could be pretty strong. Latvia is obviously one of the top teams and sideout very well. However, they don't have a dominant blocker or defender but instead do a little bit of everything. Smedins [Jan] is smooth as silk in everything he does and Alex [Samoilovs, a.k.a. Ron Burgundy] is one of the funniest players to watch on tour. It would be great to see Alex playing with Casey Patterson. I don't think anyone would miss a game of theirs! Alas, that country versus country thing tends to prevent that. Second in that pool are the Grimalts [Esteban and Marco] from Chile. Coached by former great Brazilian Garrido, the Chilean cousins are an up-and-coming team looking to make it over the hump. Much like the Latvians, they are not really big, but are very athletic. The third team is the young and tall Netherlands team [Steven van de Velde and Michiel van Dorsten]. Never know how much the home town flavour will help these young guns and difficult to say how much better the big blocker has become. If he is holding his own against his tall teammates, this could be a tough team for the smaller athletic guys from Latvia and Chile. Lastly, you have the Russian team of Byankov [Ruslan] and Koshkarev [Yaroslav]. Not much is known on Byankov, but Koshkarev was a great player before he hurt himself. If he is healthy, he is a sideout machine and this team will be able to compete with the aforementioned teams in their pool."

Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs
Smedins and Samoilovs of Latvia will compete in Pool F

Which teams will make it to the final four?
Rogers: "I'm totally biased in this pick, but if they are healthy I think Phil [Dalhausser] and Rosy [Sean Rosenthal] have to be the favourites. Athletically speaking, I don't think any team in the world can match up with them. However, they are getting a bit longer in the tooth and grayer up top (Oops, sorry Phil) and when that happens, the injury bug can sometimes reach up and bite. I'm again going to be biased and go with the elder statesman on tour, Ricardo and Emanuel. They have the experience and talent so I believe it will come down to them if they are healthy. I think it is time for Nicolai [Paolo] and Lupo [Daniele] to step out of the “young team still learning” category and step into the dominant team category. Everyone sees the talent level quite possibly only second to Phil and Rosy and is waiting for them to take the next step and be consistently in the final four at every stop. I'm going to go with Brouwer [Alexander] and Meeuwsen [Robert] for the fourth spot, although I think they will be challenged by their compatriots in Nummerdor [Reinder] and Varenhorst [Christiaan]. Brouwer and Meeuwsen are big enough and athletic enough to challenge anyone in the world. They won in 2013, but since then have yet to reach that same potential and make the top of the podium. It is there, but can they unlock it yet again on the world’s biggest beach volleyball stage in 2015 in their own country no less? Dark horses to me would be Pedro [Salgado] and Evandro [Goncalves] from Brazil. If Evandro gets on a roll from the service line, he can win matches single-handedly, and I love the way Pedro competes and is willing to push a sometimes too easy going Evandro."

If you were a betting man, which team would you say will win the world championships?
Rogers: "If I had a hundred Euros, I'd put my money on Phil [Dalhausser] and Rosy [Rosenthal]."

Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal
Rogers believes Dalhausser and Rosenthal could win the men's event at this summer's Beach Volleyball World Championships

Dutch team Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen were the surprise winners in 2013. Do you feel there could be a "surprise" team in the 2015 field?
Rogers: "From an athletic perspective, I think Brunner [Theo] and Lucena [Nick] can match up with anyone in the world. Brunner is an exceptionally intuitive blocker and is very confident, and they don't call Nick the greyhound for nothing. The man could run down a rabbit he's so quick."

Speaking of the Dutch team, did you have a feeling in 2013 prior to the Stare Jablonki World Championships that Brouwer and Meeuwsen could win the title?
Rogers: "I would love to say my precognition was in full force, but no I did not. Everyone, including myself, thought they had all the tools to win, but to get your first gold medal in the World Championships is pretty impressive. Now the question is can they go back to back?"

What do you think about the preliminary rounds being played at four different sites in the Netherlands?
Rogers: "I like the concept and played last year when they had three different sites for the prelims. I thought it worked well. It gives players a chance to enjoy some new areas and gives areas that wouldn't normally see a competition the opportunity to go out and see some of the best in the world."

What do you think about the "senior" citizens in the competition - John Hyden, Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos?
Rogers: "Pretty strong group of three. It will be interesting to see if Emanuel and Ricardo can access the ‘old magic’ and turn back the clock. I actually think they will be competitive as those old dogs still have some sharp teeth. From a mental and experiential perspective, they are the best on tour! If the bodies can hold strong, they have just as much of a chance as the ‘young bucks’!"

Do you think Emanuel and Ricardo can duplicate their previous success together on the FIVB World Tour?
Rogers: "No, I don't think they will be anywhere near as successful as they were back in the day. They were young, hungry and really, really good back then. Now they are experienced and still good, but eventually youth will be served. Like I said before, I think they can rekindle the old flame and win a tourney, but I don't see them duplicating their previous success considering they were one of, if not the most successful team on the FIVB of all time."

Question - Any other comments?  Will you be in The Netherlands for the World Championships?
Rogers: “No, I will not be in the Netherlands this year for the World Champs. I wish I were playing, but old age is creeping up.”

Related article:
Reckermann and Rogers review


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