As this issue of Long Island Tennis Magazine goes to press, Beach Tennis USA is gearing up for its sixth annual National Championship. The season-ending tournament will once again be held on Riverside Boulevard in Long Beach, N.Y. on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 4-5). Juniors, amateurs and pros will compete for beach tennis bragging rights, as top pro teams from a dozen countries are expected to battle for $10,000 in cash prizes at the two-day event.
Reigning champions Chris Henderson & Phil Whitesell of Charleston, S.C. will attempt to defend their title in the Men’s Pro Division, while Joslynn Burkett & Lee Whitwell of San Diego will try to repeat as champions of the Women’s Pro Division.
This will be a historic event, as it will be the first beach tennis tournament in the U.S. officially sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the governing body of tennis. Earlier this year, BTUSA and the ITF established a strategic partnership to expand the global development of the sport of beach tennis. All Beach Tennis USA tournaments sanctioned by the ITF will contribute to the international player ranking system.
For more information and player registration, visit www.beachtennisusa.net.
Earlier this summer, Beach Tennis USA constructed two beach tennis courts on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadow Corona Park in Flushing, N.Y.
In June, truckloads of sand were delivered to the site and Beach Tennis USA, which introduced the sport of beach tennis to America, constructed the two regulation-size courts in the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Jim Lorenzo, president of BTUSA, personally supervised the construction effort.
“This is another major accomplishment for Beach Tennis USA,” said Lorenzo. “Having beach tennis courts at the National Tennis Center validates our sport and proves that Beach Tennis USA is here to stay.”
People of all ages and skill levels are invited to come out to the National Tennis Center and try beach tennis for free. For those of you who are unfamiliar with beach tennis, the sport is basically tennis, beach volleyball and badminton all rolled into one and is played on a sand court.
"It's been a wonderful addition to our summer camp for children," said Whitney Kraft, director of tennis programs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and director of player operations for the U.S. Open. “We've got several hundred kids here playing beach tennis on a daily basis and they really enjoy it because it’s something new and different.”
According to Kraft, his campers don't even realize that they're developing their skill sets while they're having fun playing beach tennis.
"The sport is played using paddles and players learn to control volleys, time their jumps on overhead smashes and serve with spin and accuracy," said Kraft. "Also, they learn to attack the net, since you can't let the ball hit the sand, and most importantly, they learn the importance of teamwork."
In addition to beach tennis, Kraft and his staff use the sand courts as a strength and fitness conditioning area.
"The kids do sprints, hurdles and resistance training on the sand," said Kraft.
And the beach tennis courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are not just for kids.
"On July 17, we had an adult tennis camp where people got the chance to try beach tennis and wrap their arms around the sport," said Kraft. "It was very well-received."
All in all, beach tennis has been a terrific addition to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"It's something fresh and new and it's become a destination on the property," said Kraft. "I’m excited about the fact that we can activate it in both the fall and the spring."
Kraft noted that the beach tennis courts are closed during the U.S. Open (Aug. 7-Sept. 18) and will be open again after the tournament ends.
For more information about playing beach tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, call (718) 760-6200, ext. 0.
Beach Tennis USA will host its 2010 National Championship on Labor Day Weekend, the sixth straight year BTUSA will be holding its season-ending tournament in Long Beach, N.Y.