Sude

Late into the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour season, two of Germany's leading pairs have announced a partner swap to boost their chances of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Karla Borger will chase her third Olympic appearance with Sandra Ittlinger as her partner, while Julia Sude will compete to participate in her second Olympics alongside Isabel Schneider.

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Borger & Ittlinger at Roland Garros, Paris

Borger and Sude had been playing together since 2019. Together, they picked up three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour medals, including gold at the 2021 Finals in Cagliari. They also won the national title in Germany in 2019, a 2021 CEV European Championship bronze, and a bronze at their last appearance on the Beach Pro Tour as a team, at the Hamburg Elite16 in August. The duo also played a key role in the German national team’s silver at the inaugural CEV Nations Cup this summer. Borger and Sude managed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but were disappointed with their performance in the Japanese capital where they failed to win any matches.

“We had a lot of good times together, but there were also times that weren’t so good. But on the court, together in the sand, we were always a team," said Borger. “We have reached a point where we both think that new partners can provide a fresh impetus.”

Ittlinger and Schneider competed together for a shorter period of time, since the start of this season, when they topped the podium at the King of the Court Finals in Doha. Their best Beach Pro Tour result was a fourth place at the Kusadasi Challenge in May. They registered four fifth-place finishes, including one at the Hamburg Elite16, and claimed German national championship silver.

“After a successful 2022 season with many highlights, Sandra and I will go our separate. I am very grateful for our time together, on and off the court, and proud of what we have achieved over the past few months,” Schneider posted.

The new pairings are no longer completely new as both have already made their debuts on the Beach Pro Tour.

Sude and Schneider began their partnership particularly well. After a quarterfinal finish at the first Dubai Challenge event, they won the second tournament in the city. For 2013 U23 world champion Schneider, it was the first ever gold medal on the international beach volleyball circuit. 35-year-old Sude and 31-year-old Schneider also hit the courts together at the last Elite16 event of the season in Torquay, Australia from November 29 to December 3. They will be mentored by Brazilian coach Ricardo Brunale de Andrade.

“The gold medal in Dubai was a great start and it makes you want more,” Sude said.

“I'm looking forward to having such an experienced player by my side on the way to Paris. We will continue to work hard every day to keep getting better,” Schneider added.

33-year-old Borger and 28-year-old Ittlinger, on the other hand, first appeared together in late September at the Paris Elite16 tournament, where they finished ninth. The pair will train under Polish Olympian Grzegorz Fijalek, who took up coaching after retiring as an athlete last year.

“I am really looking forward to the next two years with Karla,” Ittlinger said. “Our first tournament together in Paris has already shown what potential we have as a team. I can't wait to tackle the big goal of Paris 2024 together.”

“It all feels very good, a real boost,” added Borger. “Sandra is moving to Stuttgart and we are pulling together. I'm so excited and looking forward to everything that's to come. I'm really up for it.”