What do you get when you combine the best elements of tennis and beach volleyball with the laid-back beach lifestyle? You get the hottest new sport in America: Beach tennis. Beach tennis is essentially doubles tennis played on sand. Played on a regulation beach volleyball court using regulation tennis racquets and a slightly depressurized tennis ball, beach tennis players volley for points without letting the ball touch the sand. Because it’s played on sand, players are able to dive to return shots, which makes for exciting volleys.
Beach tennis is easy to learn and most newcomers to the game can be up and running in as little as 30 min. Played at its highest pro level, however, it is a fast-paced, intensely competitive game that delivers an amazing workout, even for hardcore athletes. That’s why beach tennis has been referred to as “The X-Games of Tennis.”
What began in 2005 by Beach Tennis USA as a modest grassroots operation—a truck loaded with beach tennis gear and a small staff of instructors driving to beach communities along the East Coast—has blossomed into a full-production, 10-city Pro Tour, and includes tournaments in Florida; California; South Carolina; Long Beach, N.Y. and Bermuda.
Long Island, Long Beach in particular, which has hosted the Beach Tennis USA (BTUSA) National Championship for the past four years, has become a hotbed for both pro and recreational beach tennis. Long Beach is home to several of the sport’s prominent figures, including three-time Women’s National Champion Nadia Johnston, BTUSA Vice President of Business Development Melissa Gibson and BTUSA President Jim Lorenzo.
This season, Long Beach will be the site of two BTUSA events. On Memorial Day weekend, fans and players can come check out the Tri-State Open, which will feature competitive and instructional play for all ages and levels, including Men’s and Women’s Pro divisions, Amateurs and Mixed Doubles, Youth Boys and Girls Divisions, and open free play. There will also be a Pro and Amateur Paddle Division. Paddles, which are used predominantly throughout Europe, where beach tennis originated, are sharing the stage with conventional racquets on this year’s National Tour.
On Labor Day weekend, Long Beach will host the 2009 BTUSA National Championship, where players from all over the world will compete for cash and glory on the sand. This festival-style event includes music by local and national bands, product sampling booths, T-shirt giveaways, and more. It’s like “Lollapalooza on the beach … with tennis!”
“Long Beach has really become the home of Beach Tennis USA,” said Marc Altheim, BTUSA’s founder and commissioner. Altheim, a resident of Lake Success, N.Y., discovered the sport while vacationing with his family in Aruba in 2004. “This year, we look forward to introducing beach tennis to more Long Island communities with leagues, youth programs and our new ‘Places 2 Play’ programs,” Altheim added.
Currently, there are several permanent courts set up in Long Beach (on the beach at Lincoln Avenue), and there are plans to build more in other communities this spring.
“This year, our mission is simple—to get more people playing beach tennis,” said Melissa Gibson, BTUSA’s vice president of business development. One of Gibson’s many roles at BTUSA is to help people become league directors and beach tennis instructors, or to assist beach clubs, summer camps, hotels and resorts in setting up courts through the company’s Places 2 Play program. “We’ve really made it easy for people to get involved. Beach tennis has this wonderful social element built into it—tennis on the beach. Does it get any better?”
This summer, the Beach Tennis USA team will also be working feverishly on player recruitment and membership enrollment, especially at the college level. Beach Tennis USA will be enlisting the services of students around the country to serve as BTUSA University Directors, who will be brand ambassadors at their schools and help promote the growth of beach tennis in 2010. University Directors can earn up to $500 per school year for their efforts and receive ongoing training and support from Beach Tennis USA.
To learn more about joining an existing beach tennis league or starting one of your own, or to become an official BTUSA Place 2 Play, contact Melissa Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about America’s fastest growing beach sport, visit www.beachtennisusa.net.
Two-time Beach Tennis USA National Champion Nadia Johnston shows her perfect form
2008 Beach Tennis USA National Champions Laura and Lisa Maloney high-five after a match win
2007 and 2008 Beach Tennis USA National Champion Alex Mingozzi serves during a match