For the fifth consecutive year, the City of Long Beach, N.Y. will play host to the Beach Tennis USA National Championship Tournament on Labor Day weekend. For those of you who have been there before, it's easy to understand why some people describe it as “Lollapalooza meets tennis on the beach.” Beach Tennis USA (BTUSA) culminates its 10-city national tour with a grandiose event that is beyond the pale. Whether you’re a spectator or a participant in the tournament, this Labor Day weekend will be nothing but a day at the beach. Featuring live music, sampling tents, audience giveaways and raffles, this event has something for everyone.
The weekend-long event kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 5 with a new addition to the Beach Tennis National Championship, the “Paddle Battle.” BTUSA has begun integrating the use of paddles in their competitions and are giving credence to it by pitting beach tennis veterans against one another using specially-designed paddles. The Amateur and Junior Paddle Battles begin at 9:00 a.m. and are open to first-time players through intermediates. The Men’s and Ladies Pro Divisions begin at 10:30 a.m., with the finals of both divisions at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively. To kick off the paddle version of beach tennis, BTUSA will be providing complimentary paddles for all players. The events conclude with a family movie night on the beach as Beach Tennis USA and the City of Long Beach sponsor the Starlight Movie Night.
The racquet tournament that the BTUSA sport has come to be known for kicks off bright and early on Sunday, Sept. 6. This year, there is an Amateur-Mixed Tournament open to first-timers through intermediates that begins at 9:30 a.m. The Pro Division starts at 10:00 a.m. and there are certainly a lot of players to keep your eye on. This year, as many as 75 Men’s and Ladies Pro Division teams from 12 countries are expected to compete in the National Championship event. Although the two-time defending champions, Matteo Marighella and Alex Mingozzi from Ravenna, Italy are favored to win, several teams from the U.S. and other countries are hoping to quell the Italian duo’s dominance in the new pro sport. One such team that looks to have the best chance to bring the title back to the U.S. is comprised of two California-natives, Marty “Kid Kodiac” Salokas and Donny “The Golden Bullet” Young. They are atop the 2009 Point Standings and are looking to add a National Championship to an already successful season. Not to be discounted are the 2005-2006 Men’s Pro Division National Champions, Chris Henderson and Phil Whitesell from Charleston, S.C. Whitesell and Henderson showed early signs of potentially upsetting the Italians in last season’s National Championship finals match, winning three of the match’s first six games. But in the end, the Italians grabbed control, taking five of the last six games to collect their second BTUSA National Championship in as many years.
In the Women’s Pro Division, three-time National Champion and Long Beach native Nadia Johnston entered this year’s national tour with new partner, Nicole Melch (also of Long Beach). The duo have dominated throughout the season, as Johnston is looking to reclaim her title after having lost her first National Championship title match last season to the sister team of Laura and Lisa Maloney from San Diego.
Labor Day weekend is sure to be an exciting time for the City of Long Beach. To learn more about the great sport of beach tennis, visit www.beachtennisusa.net. There, you can view photos from previous stops on the 2009 National Tour, register for the National Championship event, as well stock up on all of your favorite BTUSA gear, including balls, sand socks, paddles, and a full line of BTUSA hats and other apparel.
For more information, visit www.beachtennisusa.net.