Beach tennis is a fast, engaging, and fun sport that has elements of beach volleyball and tennis. As the name may suggest, the sport is mainly played on the beach. But lately, people have started playing it on inland courts. It is a rapidly growing sport in all aspects. And more and more countries are succumbing to the enticing nature of the sport.
Beach tennis, which originated from Italy, has gained ground in different parts of the globe. This sport first emerged in the early 1970s when a group of tennis players on vacation in the coattails town of Ravenna tried to play tennis on existing beach tennis courts. But it was until early 2000 that it spreads to other parts of the world.
Today, more and more countries have developed local structures to manage the sport professionally. What started as a fun activity has grown into a highly competitive sport, thanks to the efforts of local and international organizations that have supported its growth. Beach tennis is entering its golden age.
Continue reading to find out what countries have embraced beach tennis.
These are 10 countries where Beach Tennis is popular.
Obviously, being the country where the sport originated from, Italy is still the epicenter of beach tennis. An estimated quarter of a million Italian beach tennis players have contributed to the popularity of the sport in the country. Today, there are more than 1700 beach tennis nets, and this does not include the growing number of indoor and inland courts.
Italy still dominates the sport. Most of the international tournaments are held in the country, giving the continuous developments of beach tennis infrastructure. The country staged the first European Beach Tennis Championships in 1997 and the first Beach Tennis World Championships in 2001.
In 1997, the international Beach Tennis Federation (IFBT) was officially launched in Italy by Mr. Giandomenico Bellettini to regulate, promote and bring structures into the sport. Mr. Giandomenico is also the promoter of the Italian Federation of Beach Tennis. As you would expect, most of the first international tournaments organized by the federation were held in Italy, further boosting the prospects of beach tennis in the country.
When ITF took the responsibility of regulating the sport in 2008, the first major international tournament was held in Rome.
Beach tennis was first introduced in Brazil around 2008, but it has already dominated most of the beach volleyball courts on the coastal beaches.
In the early periods, the sport was mainly popular in Rio de Janeiro. As more Brazilians took their vacation to the city, they became aware of sport; they fell in love with beach tennis and decided to introduce it when they returned to their inland home towns. Within a short time, the sport became popular in all corners of the country.
Today, a significant number of tennis clubs have already converted some of the traditional tennis courts to beach tennis courts.
Beach tennis in Brazil has a lot of potentials given the significant number of beaches and courts. Besides Italy and Spain, Brazil is among the countries with the highest popularity of beach tennis. In 2014, Brazil’s Vinicius Font achieved the ranking of World N.1 on men’s division, while Joana Cortez and Flavia Muniz, also from Brazil, were ranked 4th and 5th among the female players’ category.
Beach tennis is a popular sport in Spain, especially in Barcelona. While there is a considerable amount of Spaniards pursuing the game competitively, the majority just play it for fun.
The region has two good clubs for developing talent: Beach Tennis Montgat and Barcelona Beach Tennis. Being neighbors to Italy, Spain was among the first countries that adopted the sport. Spain has also been a host to several ITF Beach Tennis Tour tournaments, and it is also among the countries with a high number of professional players.
All year round, several beach tennis events are happening in Spain. For instance, the Barcelona Beach Tennis club organizes open tournaments at least once a month. These events attract different categories of players – from amateurs to professionals.
While the country is still playing catch up with Brazilians and Italians, Moscow has been a host to several international beach tennis events. Most Russians spend their summer playing beach tennis. And this could explain the popularity of the sport in the country.
According to the ITF beach tennis World Ranking, Russia (in 2018) ranked high in the table, only after Brazil and Italy. The Russian Tennis Federation has been spreading the development of the sport in the country. Several Russian former tennis players such as Malkina Anastasija, Fartukov Kirill, and Trusov Oleg have found success in beach tennis.
The RTF is also inculcating the sport among young athletes. In 2011, the country organized Russian Kids Beach Tennis Cup, signifying the start of beach tennis junior in the country.
Beach tennis was introduced in Australia in 2004 by Paul Mapley and Kellie de Burgh. Earlier on, Paul had visited Europe where he stumbled on beach tennis. He saw the potential of the game. When he returned home, he started the process of formalizing the sport in the country. Together with Kellie, they formed Beach Tennis Australia to spearhead the development of the game in the country.
Since then Australians have come to love beach tennis.
In 2005, the country sent its first team to the World Championships, which are usually hosted in Marina Di Ravenna, Italy, every year. In 2007, Australia organized its first international beach tennis competition (International Beach Tennis Championships), which was held in Melbourne.
The country has structures that support beach tennis right from the grassroots to the national level. They boast quite a number of elite players, thanks to the support from the government, local businesses, sporting organizations, and tennis clubs.
6. United Kingdom
Most people are probably familiar with the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, but what they may not know is that a new type of tennis is developing by the seaside.
Several beach tennis organizations have been founded to promote the sport. One of them is Beach Tennis UK (BTUK), a Brighton-based organization founded in 2011. Recently, BTUK introduced the sport in three key areas: Isle of Wight, London, Bath, and St Albans.
7. United States
Beach tennis arrived in the US in 2005, and it was introduced by Marc Altheim. He had discovered the sport in 2003 on a vacation to Aruba.
By 2007, the sport was already popular among beach enthusiasts, thanks to the effort of Beach Tennis USA (BT USA). Since then, Beach Tennis USA has organized several tournaments across the country. As more people embrace the sport, sponsors and media are entering the space, which further promotes the popularity of the sport.
Major centers for beach tennis in the country are in Southern California, New York, and Florida. In California, beach tennis is a sport being played by people of all ages while, in the east, the game is mainly played by youngsters. The fact that the sport appeals to a broader base makes it a great recreational activity for most people.
Like several countries in Europe, beach tennis was introduced in France in the early 2000s. Since then France has sent its teams to European and World beach tennis Championships. Though it has fewer professional players than countries such as Brazil and Italy, the sport is quite popular, especially on the coast.
In recent times, French players have been achieving excellent results in international competitions. For instance, in 2018, French teammates, Theo Irigaray and Mathieu Guegano won the European Beach Tennis Championship, becoming the first non-Italians to win that event.
9. South Africa
South Africa is one of the top countries where the sport is played and promoted. Probably, it is the first African country to fully embrace beach tennis. Tennis South Africa (TSA) is bullish about the prospect of this sport. They have dubbed it the “fun tennis” of the future.
During the festive season, you will see a variety of people enjoying this sport along the coastal beaches of South Africa. Beach tennis is the biggest and newest tennis craze in the country.
The sport became popular in South Africa after its success worldwide. Nevertheless, the game is now fully sanctioned and promoted by the TSA. The organization has already developed several quality players.
While not as popular as tennis, in recent years, beach tennis is gaining popularity in Germany. In 2014, Germany went close to upsetting the status quo during the ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship; the germans players outplayed Brazil in the 2nd and 3rd sets during the semifinals.
Besides professional competitions, Germans generally enjoy playing the sport as a fun recreational activity. In Europe, Italy has been the powerhouse of beach tennis, but countries such as Germany are bridging the gap, and as more players pursue the game professionally maybe the table will turn in the not too distant future.
All in all
What has contributed to the growth of Beach Tennis is its emphasis on enjoyment, fun, as well as, its laid-back environment, which is sort of lacking in several racquet sports. Besides, this sport is easy to learn and usually requires minimal expenses.
With beach tennis, you can combine the beauty of the sea and sand with the fun of this sporting activity. It’s just a matter of time before more and more countries embrace this sport.