TEL AVIV, Israel — So much of this is still new to Tim Brewster, and yet so much of it is so familiar. Traveling the world to play volleyball is nothing new. This weekend in Tel Aviv for a one-star FIVB was his 25th professional tournament, compiled through various FIVBs, AVPs, NVLs and NORCECAs. Even the competition he is seeing, like Italians Samuele Cottafava and Jakob Windisch, whom he met in the quarterfinals and eventually won gold over Denmark’s Daniel Thomsen and Martin Trans Hansen, is hardly anything new.
There he was in the player tent, chopping it up with the Czech Republic, with the Italians, with Israel, all competitors he’s seen on the world juniors and youth circuits for the past few years. And yet so much of it is still so new. New to compete in adult tournaments with those competitors, with international medals on the line, with a points ladder to climb, a new style of play against which to contend.
“It’s cool because I’ve become friends with them in all the youth stuff so I get to see them outside of it and see how they improve,” Brewster said after a career-high fifth-place finish in the Tel Aviv one-star with Travis Mewhirter. “Like, my friend from Czech grew six inches since the last time I saw him. It is cool to see everyone competing in adult tournaments.”
It’s likely cool for them, too, to see Brewster’s improvement from the youth circuits until now. He entered the trip, a two-week journey that began in the Dominican Republic for a NORCECA with Jon Ferrari and ended with the one-star in Tel Aviv, wanting to improve upon his previous best finishes in adult international tournaments. He accomplished that in both, claiming fourth in the Dominican and fifth in Tel Aviv, both personal bests to end the 2019 season.
“I came in wanting to improve on my past finishes in these types of tournaments and finish off the season strong,” he said. “Traveling internationally is partially to see the world and, ultimately, is about seeing top level competition from around the world.”
Both were accomplished. In the Dominican, Brewster was able to compete against Chaim Schalk and Jeremy Casebeer, one of the top teams on the AVP Tour. In Tel Aviv, he had a crack against Italy’s Cottafava and Windisch, who made main draw in the World Tour Finals and have won multiple medals in lower-level FIVBs this season.
“The FIVBs are definitely different from NORCECAs,” Brewster said. “European teams bring a different high level style of play that I don’t usually see. They just rip the ball. They’re controlled. Everything looks smooth and pretty and they just crack the ball. You play a team in the U.S. and it doesn’t look pretty but usually gets the job done. Here it looks pretty and gets the job done.”
As far as his goals go, Brewster also got the job done. He careered in both tournaments. He saw two new parts of the world. His international points received a boost. He played at a high level.
“I finished off the season with two improvements,” he said. “Which is what I came in here hoping to do.”
The women, too, finished on career-highs. Melissa Fuchs Powell and Delaney Knudsen also took fifth, which matches Fuchs Powell’s former best and sets a new one for Knudsen. The women’s event was won by Japan’s Reika Murakami and Kaho Sakaguchi. Denmark also took silver on the women’s side, from Line Hansen and Okholm Hansen. Bronze went to Russia’s Alexandra Moiseeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva.
“We had some really fun matchups,” Knudsen said. “We won some hard-fought battles and Tel Aviv is beautiful.”