The Hague, the Netherlands, July 3, 2015 – It’s going to be a tough match against their fellow Brazilians in the semifinal of the FIVB World Championships Friday evening, but Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta da Silva can count on huge support from their ‘Dutch family’.
The 31-year old Antonelli met her second family, as she calls them, 11 years ago when she participated in junior events in the Netherlands.
“I stayed at their house two times. They feel like family and give me and my partner love all the time. They support us, even when we lose and take care of us. They make banners for us, they tried learn Portuguese and I try to talk Dutch with them.”
She continued: They believe we are the best. When a person believes in you a lot, you start to believe it too. They are giving me a lot of energy. And for me, they are my second family. I have Dutch blood too.”
The World Champs in the Netherlands have been tough for them, Juliana said, especially on Thursday, when they defeated their former partners Larissa and Talita and Canada’s Bansley and Pavan. “For sure this was a small final on it’s own”, Juliana said about their match against Larissa and Talita (19-21, 21-18, 15-13).
Antonelli: “Imagine you win the game 15-13 against Brazil, against you ex-partner and they played really good. And then you have to play one more. We were excited because we won, but we didn’t get to enjoy it. We had to forget about it right away, because we needed to focus on the next, a team we never played before. That was tough mentally.”
“For me, but I only played one Olympic Games before, this is tougher than the Olympics”, former world champion (Rome 2011) Juliana added. “The Olympics is more special, more emotions and people stop you on the street because they saw you play. But here the technical level is for sure much higher, because you have four strong Brazilians, four good teams from Germany and four Americans.”
Antonelli and Juliana know their opponents in Friday’s semifinal all to well from the National and World Tour. They are tied 2-2 in the World Tour head-to-heads. The previous two meeting were the gold medal matches in Stavanger and St Petersburg this year. Antonelli and Juliana won the first final and Agatha and Seixas the latter.
Last year they also met in the bronze medal match at the The Hague Grand Slam, where Antonelli and Juliana won in three sets.
The 28-year old Seixas is optimistic about their chances in the semi. “But it is going to be hard, because we play against each other a lot. And the more you play each other, the more you know. The opponents know you, that is always hard. But I think we are very confident about what we have to do and we are really happy and optimistic about the results here.”
Agatha and Seixas are, unlike their opponents who lost a pool match to Germany, still unbeaten with only one 2-1 win. It’s been tough though, Seixas said. “All these rounds that we have played, despite being 2-0 matches, it always demands so much from us. I think there was no easy game for us.”
They travelled from Apeldoorn and are very excited to play in The Hague. Seixas: “Everything looks good, perfect, so we hope the people come to watch us, because of the energy, the crowd has been really amazing and we hope to do our best.”
The 6th seeds have at least two fans, since Seixas’ parents travelled with them. “It’s the first time they see me playing on the World Tour. My mother came with me to some junior championships, but not the big ones. It’s always special to have your family with you, and they go to Gstaad with us.”
Agatha loves the four venues. “It’s a nice idea and courageous because nobody did it before and it worked and it proves that with a lot of effort and organization you can do it. I want to congratulate all the people from the organization because everything went great so far.”