Meet The Team: Gaia Canevari and Lisa Canevari

commonwealth games May 15, 2022

In the run up to the Commonwealth Games this year, we want to shine a spotlight on the teams hoping to qualify.

We spoke with Gaia and Lisa Canevari. These amazing ladies have been smashing the courts for {years}, here's what they had to say.

Gaia Canevari



Position & Side: defender, right side

Height: 170 cm

Date of Birth: 2nd October 1997

Hometown: Milan, Italy

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am Gaia Canevari and I am 24 years old. I was born in Milan, Italy and then moved to Paris when I was 10 years old. We lived 5 years in France and then moved to London. I then went to Rome for one year and then went to San Diego, California for my Master’s degree. I then moved back to London which is where I currently am.

When and how did you get into beach volleyball?

I started playing volleyball when I was 6 years old because my oldest cousin played and I wanted to be like her. Although my parents really wanted me to play basketball like them, I fell in love with volleyball since the first day, it was love at first sight, and it continues after 18 years. I kept asking my parents for a little sister at the time so that I could teach her how to play. 2 years after Lisa was born and she was playing volleyball before she could even walk, I couldn’t wait that long. I have played volleyball for as long as I can remember, and I started beach volleyball in my second year in London.

The moment where I learnt the most and fell in love with beach volleyball though was in my year in California, where I was starting every day at training on the beach. I had 3 months of individual training, that included 1 hour training and 30 min conditioning on the sand. The fact that I was in San Diego, my dream city, helped me getting up at 6 every morning to go training, as when I stepped on the court I was the happiest person in the world. I understood beach volleyball a lot more and I really got into it, especially when we started playing with my sister!

 Do you have any pre-game habits/rituals?

Lisa and I have many rituals, that start from the evening before the tournament, where we fight to decide what to wear (because one likes the red bikini more and the other one the black one), we then continue fighting as we usually find one (probably me) stole something from the other one’s wardrobe. The morning of the tournament, something that is never missing is Italian and Spanish music in the car and making fun of our dad for how well he sings.

When we get to the tournament, our mum braids our hair, we high five our dad and then we play rock paper scissors to see who has to get up and check the schedule and who can be lazy and remain where she is. Another interesting one is that we always do a plank before the start of every game, and we both strongly believe it will affect our game if we don’t do it 😅  We give each other a big hug and we are ready to go!

Oh, and of course I always need to drink my cappuccino on the way to tournaments!

Of all the events you’ve played, is there a match or tournament that stands out in your mind? Why?

Lisa and I have many amazing memories on a court together, but if I had to pick one it would be the first game of the first tournament in 2020 after the first lockdown. It felt amazing to be able to play after all those tough and strange few months, and it was a game that we won 2-1. It was against a very good team, and the last thing we were expecting was to win against them. We played some of our best beach volleyball, we were just so excited to be there and we fought together until the very last point, and it worked!

I remember I jumped on my sister and hugged her so tightly after the end of the game, and I still remember the amazing feelings that we had.

Outside of beach volleyball, what do you do in your free time?

My free time is usually occupied by volleyball and beach volleyball, but outside of that I love travelling, as soon as I can jump on a plane you will see me on one, and I also love singing and playing the piano. I learn my favourite songs on YouTube and I then play and sing them! I also love going out with my friends and spending quality time with my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

I see myself moving to a new European city, with an exciting job and a new adventure to live. Volleyball and beach volleyball will always be there and I will use all my free time to play (which is the same since I’m about 6 years old). I would love to keep the travelling aspect of my life and the mentality of jumping on a flight as soon as I have the chance to.

Is there any advice you would give to young players?

I would tell everyone to believe in what they can do. Both my sister and I are very determined when it comes to sports and especially in beach volleyball, anything can happen! You never know how a game can go and if you truly believe in it, you will be able to reach your objectives and goals! It may take a while, but you will get there!

On top of being determined, it is also critical to have someone next to you that fully believes in you, as it’s the case for Lisa and I! We both value so much the skills and volleyball knowledge of the other one, that it just gives us so much strength to think that someone believes in us that much.

Lisa Canevari



Position and side: defender, left side.

Height: 5’7”

Date of birth: 03/21/2005

Hometown: Milan, Italy

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am Lisa Canevari, I’m 17 years old and I was born in Milan. My family and I then moved to Paris for 5 years and then London for 8 years. 

When and how did you get into beach volleyball?

I started playing volleyball before I could even walk. Gaia, my older sister, started playing volleyball with me, making me wear kneepads and digging the ball before I could even walk! There are some great videos of me with her kneepads on that basically cover my whole leg, with her throwing the ball at me, for me to dig it, but of course, I would completely miss it. My weekends would just be in a sports hall, watching my sister’s games, so did I really have a choice on what sport to play?

And of course, as a little girl, I just wanted to do everything that older sister did, so when I was around 6 years old, when we lived in Paris, I joined my sister’s club and started actually playing indoors. After about 4 years, in London, I started to play beach volleyball and fell in love with it straight away.

Do you have any pre-game habits/rituals?

Gaia and I have a few game day rituals. First of all, it starts with leaving our house late because we can’t decide to wear, or one of us can’t find our clothes and we take too long to make breakfast. Once we have made it to the car, after a discussion on who gets to connect to the car to play music, once we decide, we have to play either Italian or Spanish music and sing along, of course.

Before our first game, we get our hair done the same, both a high ponytail and a then braided by our mum. At the end of our warm up we do a plank, this has a long story behind it, but it is now a ritual. Our last ritual before a game, is a big hug probably followed by some sort of sister argument on who’s going to do the coin toss.

Of all the events you’ve played, is there a match or tournament that stands out in your mind? Why?

My favourite beach volleyball game so far has been a final of a 3* UKBT event that I played with my sister. It was last year and it was against two amazing players that we are also both friends with. We actually ended up losing at the 3rd set by 2 points, but it didn’t feel like we lost. I have lost other games by two points at the third set and it was tough and it’s definitely not a good feeling, but after that game it didn’t feel like that at all. Gaia and I had played some of our best volleyball and so did the opponents, there was no tension on court on either side or between the teams, we both recognized we were played a great game and so had fun with it.

Everything was working as it should and even better than it ever did, we had so much fun, we gave it our all, tried new things and perfected our basics. It was an incredible feeling, I felt like I won at the end, even if we just lost by 2 points and I never have felt like that after losing a game. There was also a lot to learn from that game, especially from our mental game and I hope to learn how to feel like that after every loss.

Outside of beach volleyball, what do you do in your free time?

Even though I don’t really have much free time, because Junior year at school is very tough, I like to travel and take my camera with me and take photos of the place and the people. I also like to cook, listen to music and hang out with my friends and family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I will be in my senior (last year) of college. I hope to be attending NYU, studying sport management and playing volleyball. I also hope to have a job or having a set idea for what I want to do after I finish college. I want to be able to travel, meet new people, learn new cultures and try new foods. But I don’t like planning so far ahead, I think whatever is meant to happen will happen and I am very excited to see what it is.

Is there any advice you would give to young players?

Even if I am still a young athlete, I think my biggest advice is do this sport with someone you love next to you. A huge part of beach volleyball is the mental side of the game, over the physical and skill side. Your team could have the stronger skills, but if you don’t have chemistry with your partner, lack communication and don’t like playing with each other, you will never succeed. it also just isn’t fun! Beach volleyball is meant to be fun! I have so much fun when I play with my sister and it is so obvious from outside of the court and it feels so good while playing, we laugh, we cheer and we smile and that’s one of our biggest strengths.

Team Questions

Coach: Luis Bello

Social media handles: @gaiouuuu; @lisa_canevari

Describe your team in three words.

Sisters / double defense / chaos

What would you say is your team’s super strength?

Our team’s super strength is that we are sisters. We have always been really close and being with each other on court is so different than playing with anyone else. We know each other so well, we can easily tell when one of us is down, or is having a great time. We know our facial expressions, body language and our way of playing when we are in trouble vs when we are having a great time. On top of that we know exactly what to say to each other in these difficult or great moments. You can tell your sister everything and anything, which can sometimes however also be our weakness…

Being sisters on court is so different, we have a connection that we don’t have with anyone else and it brings us together and it is our super strength. On top of that, we look the same, dress the same and have our hair in the same way, so sometimes our opponents can’t tell the difference between us! We also speak in Italian, very loudly, and double! It’s fun to watch!

How long have you been playing together?

Since Lisa was a few months old and could not even walk, we used to go to Gaia’s room, get Lisa all dressed up in Gaia’s volleyball clothes, kneepads and shoes and spend our afternoons playing. Lisa wouldn’t be too happy about this sometimes, but Gaia didn’t really leave her a choice, so we have been playing together for around 16 years.

On a more serious note, we started playing beach volleyball together in 2019 for a few tournaments and did our first entire season together in 2020. We always find an excuse to play, we play at home in the garden, we play on holidays or sometimes wherever we are we just find the nearest court and go for an improvised practice. Usually, in these cases it’s our parents who act as coaches, players and team managers. We also usually play against our parents on holidays, organising the “Family Olympics” as we are a very competitive family!

We love playing together and we only started playing together regularly a couple of years ago because of our age difference.

What would it mean for you both to reach the Commonwealth Games?

It would mean to be able to live an amazing experience with our family. We are extremely tight as a family and everything we live is always multiplied by 4 of us, which means we live experiences very intensively and to the fullest. Getting to the Commonwealth Games for Lisa and I would be one of our proudest achievements so far, together. Being able to share this experience with my little sister would just be incredible and it would also be an amazing feeling to know that all the hours of training, gym and effort have worked towards reaching this goal.


The Commonwealth Games Qualifier Tournament will commence on the 26th of May, and we can't wait to see these two blow it out of the water.

Check out our learning plans now for all you need to master beach volleyball.

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