Beach tennis is practiced in over 50 countries and there are more than half a million people all around the world playing it, having its greatest popularity in Italy, Brazil and Spain.
Beach tennis offers an excellent cardio workout which is highly aerobic but with low impact to the knees and joints due to its practice in the sand. Similar to traditional tennis, beach tennis preserves most of the rules and scoring of tennis (15/30/40). Modifications were made to adapt to movement around the sand court and to the faster pace of the game.
The ball cannot touch the ground. As such, the sport is played entirely with volleys. Due to this rule, beach tennis makes for a quick, intense, and exciting game. Points start with a serve and end when the ball touches the ground, forcing players to dive to reach difficult plays, similar to volleyball. As with tennis, the objective is to return the ball with only one hit so that it reaches the opposing side of the net.
The sport uses a depressurized tennis ball to make for longer rallies as it will travel more slowly through the air than a regulation tennis ball.
The sport is (usually) played by two-person teams on a regulation beach volleyball court with a 5-foot-7-inch-high net.
Beach tennis emerged in Italy in the early 1970s when tennis players on vacation in Lido degli Estensi (Ferrara) decided to try out tennis with tennis rackets using the existing volleyball nets already installed. In 1976 it then was played for the first time, with the rules as we know them today, in Torredembarra, Spain. Also in Torredembarra was played the first championship in 1978. Since then (with few interruptions) it takes place on the same beach every year. Over the years, the sport spread to the beaches along the coast of Italy, and it is estimated that today there are more than 1,600 beach tennis nets along the coast of Italy, and that number does not include the constantly growing number of inland and indoor courts. An estimated 250,000 Italian beach tennis players have made the sport so popular that the infrastructure for tournaments has taken on incredible proportions, check out some of these exotic destinations where beach tennis courts are being set up.
Beach tennis only started spreading around the world in the early 2000s, but it has quickly gained popularity in coastal areas all around the world. It has been registered that beach tennis is being played in over 53 countries all around the world. Italy Spain Portugal France United Kingdom Belgium Germany Hungary Latvia Estonia Lithuania Slovenia Poland Ukraine Bulgaria Holland Austria Finland Denmark Switzerland Czech Republic Belarus Romania Egypt Iran Tunisia Greece Israel Cyprus South Africa Morocco Argentina Chile Peru Brazil Japan Mauritius Puerto Rico Mexico Venezuela Dominican Republic Colombia El Salvador Russia China Australia India Malaysia Singapore United States Canada United Arab Emirates Thailand And many more joining by the day.
Beach tennis arrived in Brazil on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro around 2008, and the sport has now dominated about 1/3 of the beach volleyball courts along the coast. It is estimated there are more than 50,000 beach tennis players in Brazil.
As Brazilians from all over the country came to Rio on vacation they fell in love with the sport and have taken it back to their inland home towns, spreading Beach Tennis to the far corners of the country away from the coast. Today, most of the tennis clubs around the country (Brazil) have converted or are *converting at least one traditional tennis court into a few beach tennis courts.
This is a worldwide trend. Originally played on the beach, geographical distance from the coast, whether restrictions and lighting restrictions on the beach for night play have now taken Beach tennis to tennis clubs, indoor beach tennis/volleyball warehouses, to tennis Clubs, Country Clubs, Resorts, gyms, up in the mountains and sand arenas mounted in all kinds of places.
The sport is entering its golden age, thanks to the recognition granted to it by the International Tennis Federation, or ITF, in 2010. The ITF now manages the most well-known and most reputable International ranking for beach tennis. ITF is allocating resources to the development of Beach Tennis, and has set up exposition sand courts at Pro Tour tournaments in the stadium areas of major tournaments such as Tokyo ATP 500 (Rakuten Japan Open), Roland Garros, Australian Open in Melbourne and the US Open (Arthur Ashe Stadium NY)
As a result, top tennis players in the world that have tried out beach tennis include the Ex World No 1 Maria Sharapova, World No 1 Serena Williams and No 2 Victoria Azarenka, Andy Murray, who was quoted saying “Beach tennis is cool and has a great Future, it is just a matter of time,” World #1 Doubles players the Bryan Brothers, Rafael Nadal and Gustavo Kuerten, who has his personalized line of rackets.
The ITF also supports Beach Tennis by sanctioning tournaments. In 2015: 89 official sanctioned beach tennis tournaments were held in locations all around the world. These sanctioned tournaments bring together players from all corners of the earth looking to earn points for their world ranking. In addition to the sanctioned tournaments, thousands of non-associated tournaments are held all around the world each year, and this number continues to grow. In 2013 ITF started to organize Regional and World Championships In 2015 the Pan-American games were held in Santos- São Paulo, Brazil, with 16 participating countries. In 2015 World Team Championship was held in Moscow with 28 countries participating, with adult and junior teams, male and female teams. 2015 World Championships participating countries: Italy Brazil Russia Spain Germany France Venezuela Japan San Marino Austria Greece Lithuania Hungary Estonia Belgium Morocco Portugal Belarus Israel Czech Republic Bulgaria Latvia Thailand Moldovia Switzerland Cyprus Mauritius Great Britain
You can see from the list of participating countries how in many places now people are playing at a competitive professional level. Italy continues to be the Mecca of Beach Tennis, followed closely by Brazil, a country with a very fast growing number of players including top 10 ranked players in both men and women's divisions.
Beach tennis was formalized in the United States in 2005 in New York City by Marc Altheim. He discovered beach tennis on a trip to Aruba in 2003. The sport had been played there since 2000, having been introduced by a Dutchman. As of 2007, beach tennis had made progress toward acceptance as a mainstream sport with an official standards organization known as Beach Tennis USA (BT USA). In 2007, BT USA signed two television deals: one with SNY in New York City and one with the Tennis Channel. The Tennis Channel agreed to televise three major BTUSA or National Beach Tennis / Beach Paddle Ball Association tournaments. The Miami BT USA open featured 40 teams, including several formerly highly ranked pro tennis players, including Jay Berger and Pablo Arraya. In 2007, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf played the sport.
Beach tennis merges the world of beach volleyball and tennis. It is related to beach volleyball but played with a tennis ball and paddle racket. The court is a standard beach volleyball court that is 30 feet wide and 60 feet long. There is a center line that splits the court lengthwise. At the center of the court is a 5-foot-10-inch-high (1.78 m) net. A standard tennis racquet or a paddle and a slightly depressurized tennis ball (6 oz instead of 12 oz) are used.
Sanctioned Beach Tennis USA events are different depending upon the number of entrants, number of courts available and time. Typically, the preliminary rounds are round-robin, or pool-play. This means that there is a pool of four, and one would play all the other teams in the pool (three matches). The top one or two teams from each pool advance to the elimination rounds (single-elimination).
The rules are a mix of tennis and volleyball rules. Ball that hit the sand result in a point. Scoring is similar to tennis with scores of 0 - 15 - 30 - 40 and no-ad at deuce. There is only one contact per side. There is no second serve and let balls are in play. At deuce, the receiving team chooses which player will receive.
In BT USA-sanctioned events, each match consists of one eight-game set. The match must be won by two games. If the match score is tied at 8–8, a 12-point tennis tiebreaker is played to determine the winner.
The BT USA 2008 tour commenced in Key Biscayne, Florida on the grounds of the Sony Ericcson Open. The 2008 season saw tournaments held nationwide, and a network of events under the BT USA banner will help foster the growth of the sport, which has increased ever since.
In 2008 the exposure to the sport of beach tennis increased, with new broadcast agreements with Fox Sports Net (FSN) in California and Florida and from coverage on TV shows like NBC's Today Show.
In Italy, it was first played in Romagna near Ravenna and Rimini in 1978. In 1996, it was formalized by Italian Gianni Bellettini, president of International Federation Beach Tennis-IFBT. On a trip to the US by Paul Mapley in 2008, he and Marc Altheim met in a restaurant in Soho, New York, for lunch. Paul urged Marc to put together a US team and travel to Ravenna and try and win the World Championships of IFBT Beach Tennis.
Altheim was reluctant at first as he had already spent time on the development of the racquet game which he had imported from Aruba. Jim Lorenzo, Alex Querna and a bunch of young American sporting pioneers boarded a plane for Italy to have a crack at the Italian players, who were undoubtedly regarded as the world leaders in the paddle style of the sport.
Jim's party also packed their tennis rackets as they considered themselves the world champions of the "string" specialty; however they were met by a very strong opposition by some Italian players, also very proficient in the specialty. They met their match in both disciplines of the game, so like everyone else before developed respect for the Italian players and became supportive of this form of beach tennis. At this time Alex Mingozzi, Matteo Marighella, Alan Maldini and Nicola Gambi were considered top players, along with several female players led by the Meloni sisters. These players did not necessarily have a tennis background, but their skill with the paddle was second to none.
Since then, it is widely recognized that the Italians continue to maintain the league with most of the top world players still being Italian, and players who love this sport travel each summer to Italy to gather with the top players in the world and share developed techniques and test their training and skills.