18/06/2017 10:01
For Dunja Gerson it runs in the family
2017 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship

Baden, Austria, June 18, 2017.  Switzerland’s 21-year-old talent Dunja Gerson is one of the athletes that will be competing in the women’s semifinals of the 2017 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship presented by SPORT.LAND.NÖ on Sunday. Her last name is certainly known to those who follow Beach Volleyball - not only because of her own rising international success, but also because for her it runs in the family.

All four members of the Gerson family are closely associated with Volleyball and Beach Volleyball. And in fact each of them at some point has been a national champion of Switzerland.

Dunja’s father Marc Gerson was an international volleyballer playing in the national leagues of France, Germany, Switzerland, as well as his native Luxembourg back in the 1970s and 1980s. Later he played Beach Volleyball and became Swiss champion in 1993. He could not compete on the sand internationally, because he had Luxembourgish citizenship, but was living in Switzerland. Marc Gerson followed up his athlete years with a successful coaching career.

His wife, Cornelia Gerson, however, did compete internationally. From 1996 through 2002 she was on the FIVB World Tour. Her top achievement was the fourth place at the FIVB Switzerland Satellite in 1998. But, similar to her husband, she was also more of an indoor player with a successful career in the Swiss league. “She did not really like the sand,” her daughter Dunja spills out the secret.

Dunja’s older brother, Mirco Gerson, also started with indoor Volleyball, but made the switch to Beach Volleyball early in his career. At the age of 19, he won silver at the FIVB U21 World Championship in 2012. The following year, he won CEV Satellite gold in Vaduz and bronze in Lausanne. The 2014 season was the most successful one for him so far. Teaming up with Philip Gabathuler, he won two bronze medals on the FIVB World Tour, including one at the Stavanger Grand Slam – the highlight of his career.

Dunja Gerson is four years younger than Mirco and is already following in his footsteps. Like him, she started with Volleyball at the age of 8 with her mother as the first coach, but just a few years later completed the switch to Beach Volleyball, and now she is competing on the World Tour. She has already medalled at a U22 European Championship with a 2014 bronze from Fethiye and at a CEV Satellite with a 2016 silver from Ankara.

“Both my brother and I liked Beach Volleyball more, so we decided early to switch from indoor to sand. Each of us has played for several years and we really love it,” Dunja Gerson starts her story. “My whole family is a Volleyball family. We have grown up with the sport and since we were little children we have been getting used to it.”

“I started playing Beach Volleyball in 2010. I played both disciplines until 2014, when I joined the Swiss national team and devoted myself to beach only. I always liked it more,” adds Dunja and explains her fascination. “You can play outside and the atmosphere is always good. I like to play defence, so I like the sand. And you cannot be substituted for on the court. If you are having a bad day, you have to deal with it yourself and find a solution. This makes it all the more challenging.”

Of course, her parents have always been her mentors off and on the court. “They were saying that at the beginning learning the technique well is more important than playing a lot of games. Once you have the technique, have fun on the court and everything will be easier,” the daughter remembers their advice.

And while Mom and Dad are in the natural role of mentors for their child, Dunja idolises her older brother Mirco. “He is like an idol for me!” she admits. “We are always very happy for each other when we have good results – we write to each other, wishing good luck... We are really close. I was so happy when he and Philip Gabathuler won bronze at the 2014 Stavanger Grand Slam and had a really good season. Mirco is a real fighter. He tells me to never give up and to play every game like I can win it.”

Now Dunja Gerson is within reach of her second U22 European medal and she remembers an interesting story about how she got her first one.

“In 2014 Nina Betschart was sick and they asked me if I could replace her as Nicole Eiholzer’s partner at the U22 European Championship. One day before the tournament started they asked me if I can come over to Turkey. I arrived there at 2:30 on Thursday morning and the game started at 10 AM. We had never practiced together, but we played, and we played, and we played... straight into the semifinals. Eventually we got the bronze medals and it was such a nice experience.”

At the 2017 #EuroBeachVolleyU22 in Baden, Dunja Gerson is partnering with young Swiss hopeful Esmée Böbner for the first time. “It is really cool to play with her. She is an open and funny person, always so happy and positive and she infects me with this attitude as well. We have so much fun off the court and on the court, so it is nice to play two more games with her. She is only 17 now, a young blocker with so much talent, so I really wanted to play with her since my regular partner Nicole Eiholzer is no longer U22,” is what Dunja has to say about Esmée.

After winning all their five matches in straight sets so far, in Sunday’s second semifinal on centre court at Strandbad Baden Gerson and Böbner will be facing a tough challenge – Russia’s Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova. “We are so surprised to be in the semifinals,” Dunja Gerson admits. “We want a medal for sure, but we don’t have anything to lose now. We will play the best we can, we will enjoy it and we will try to get into the medals.”

To Dunja Gerson, the family history and background are both a privilege and a responsibility, but for a young aspiring player like her it is even more important to look forward. And Dunja is not afraid to dream big: “For sure my dream is to play regularly in the main draw on the World Tour, and one day maybe at the Olympic Games – it is the ultimate dream for every athlete.”

All matches on Sunday are scheduled for live streaming on

Engage with the U22 European Championship on social media by using the competition’s official hashtag #EuroBeachVolleyU22.

Click here for more information, including schedule, results, photos and more.

More photos are available here

News nr. 3 of 13
18/06/2017 19:52:00
Russia triumphant with double gold at #EuroBeachVolleyU22!
17/06/2017 18:45:00
Gerson and Böbner make semis after dethroning 2016 champs

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