Do you enjoy relaxing by the beachside while stretching your muscles with a bit of fun sport? Well, then, maybe beach tennis is the game for you. It’s a fun sport that is suitable for everyone irrespective of their age or playing ability. Thus, it is a great way to hang out with your friends or family.
But you may already be asking yourself “What is Beach Tennis?”
Beach tennis is a sport that is a hybrid of beach volleyball and tennis with some influence of badminton. It combines the fast pace of tennis with the social and relaxed nature of volleyball.
See it for yourself.
A Fun and Easy Sport to Play
This sport is both fun and easy to play. In fact, one of the reasons why beach tennis is gaining popularity is because it is easier to learn than most racquet sports. A novice player could pick a paddle or a racquet, head into the beach, and get a rally straightaway. It is even much easier for people who have played tennis, table tennis or badminton.
The fact that beach tennis appeals to a broader base (both athletes and non-athletes) means that the sport is played recreationally and competitively. Similar to tennis, beach tennis is played with a paddle or a racquet, and a tennis ball, but in a volleyball size court, and, of course, on the beach. But don’t mistake it for being a wham-bam sport, it requires skills and finesse.
What do you need?
To start playing beach tennis, all you need is a racquet or paddle, a net, a ball, and a beach volleyball court.
The type of balls approved for beach tennis is stage 2 tennis balls (colored half orange/half yellow). Initially, the low compression green balls or stage 1 balls were used till 2010. Stage 2 balls are preferred because they are softer and slower, which increases the rally length to make the game more enjoyable or less hazardous.
Beach Tennis (Paddle) & Beach Tennis USA
There are two main types of beach tennis, beach tennis with a paddle racquet and beach tennis USA. The latter is almost similar to beach volleyball, only that the game is played with a racquet and tennis ball.
Beach tennis with a solid paddle racquet is sometimes referred to as beach paddleball, and it is mainly played in other countries.
A Bit of History About Beach Tennis
Beach tennis was first introduced in Italy in the late 1970s as a way of exciting tourist, especially during summer. Soon, it gained popularity and spread across Europe, Brazil, and the US.
Initially, the game was played on the same net as beach volleyball, but it was later lowered to a height of 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) to make it more exciting and to increase the pace of the game.
A competitive sport
Beach tennis has developed as a competitive sport over the last 20 – 30 years, and it continues to gain traction year after year. The game has transformed from being a recreational activity to a highly competitive sport. In fact, beach tennis has a World Championship held every year in different locations across the world.
In the last few decades, beach tennis spread to different regions of the globe. It arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2008. Within a few years, the game dominated almost a third of the beach volleyball courts since these two shares a common court.
As Brazilians flock to Rio de Janeiro for vacation, they started to fall in love with beach tennis, and soon the game was played in even the remotest beaches in the country. The similarity of beach volleyball and beach tennis is attributed to the rise in popularity of the later.
In recent years, Brazil has been a major competitor in international tournaments. In fact, Brazil won the 2018 Beach Tennis World Team Champion.
In the United States, beach tennis was introduced in 2005 by Marc Altheim. He had discovered the sport two years earlier while he was on a trip to Aruba. Within a few years, beach tennis gradually became a mainstream sport. Beach Tennis USA (BT USA) was formed to oversee the sport in the country. In 2008, the exposure of sport increased owing to increased media coverage.
The International Federation of Beach Tennis
The sport is regulated by the International Federation of Beach Tennis (IFBT) with its headquarters being Ravenna, Italy. This federation was formed in 1997 by Dr. Giandomenico Bellettini to bring orderliness in the games, to promote the sport, to train officials, and to administer the rules.
Towards the end of November 2007, IFBT announced plans to launch ITF Beach Tennis Tour. Since then, the federation has organized a series of tournaments every year, as more nations joined the bandwagon. With a World Ranking system in place, more and more players are pursuing the sport professionally.
As a way of promoting the sport throughout the world, the International Federation of Tennis (IFT) policy promotes partnership and cooperation with country-specific associations. So, if you wish to visit one of beach tennis events, check out the IFT calendar or one for local associations like Beach Tennis USA (BT USA).
Playing Beach Tennis Competitively:
But if you want to play beach tennis competitively, start out with locally organized tournaments. Once you are more confident with your skills, you can consider joining the ITF Beach Tennis Tour Tournaments. The minimum age for both male and female players who wish to enter these tournaments is 14 years.
In most cases, you will fill and submit an entry form before a specified deadline. It is also essential to understand both the rules of the game and the tournament. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the rules. Since the sport is still developing, IFT tends to update the rules when necessary.
Basic Beach Tennis Rules and other aspects.
The furnishing consists of stakes, nets, and lines. The net should be raised 67 inches (1.7 meters) high while the perimeter lines should be 2 inches wide and should have a contrasting color with the surface of play.
The approved balls weigh 38 – 40 grams and should measures 2.5 inches (6.4 cm). While various paddle sizes are allowed in beach tennis, the maximum length should not exceed 21.65 inches (55 cm) while the width should not exceed 11.81 inches (30 cm).
Server and receiver
The server and the returnee should be opposite to each other. The right to serve first is decided at the start of the match through a toss. The player who wins the toss may choose to either be the first to serve or receive.
The player will also have a chance to choose which side of the court to start playing from. The serving player must stand outside the boundary line, and she has one opportunity to serve. Apart from this, there is no service let or second serve in beach tennis.
Just like tennis, players are expected to switch sides after the end of odd games – 1, 3, 5 and so forth.
The scoring is similar to regular tennis, but there is uses a no advantage system, after deuce. A team or player wins a point when the ball touches the ground within the marked boundaries of the court, or if the opponent commits a fault like hitting the ball on the net.
Beach tennis uses several scoring formats: best of 5 sets, best of 3 sets, 1 set. If both players have accumulated three points each (15, 30, 40), then one of the players must score an additional point to win the game.
To win a set, a player must score 7 or 9 games with a lead margin of at least two games. When the players have scored 6 or 8 games, then a tie-break will be played.
The standard court size for doubles matches is 52.50 feet (16 meters) long and 26.24 feet (8 meters) wide. Though rare, beach tennis can be played by singles. For singles matches, the length of the playing area is the same as the doubles while the width is slightly smaller by some inches; the width is 14.91 ft. (4.5 meters).
- How much does Beach Tennis differ from Tennis?
Besides the aerial and playing area aspects, the scoring system for beach tennis is just the same as tennis. Also, beach tennis is played on a higher net – 67 inches (1.7 meters).
Since it is not a no-fault system, players have only one-serve. Because of the straightforward system in point scoring (no advantage points), it is always easy to approximate how long the game will last.
- Is the equipment used in Beach Tennis similar to Tennis?
Equipment used in beach tennis is similar to those of tennis. The paddle is made of carbon, graphite, and fiberglass with no strings, Just like tennis, beach tennis racket can vary in weight and length. Beach tennis balls are low compression tennis balls.
- Is Beach Tennis played across the globe?
Yes, beach tennis is played in many northern and southern hemisphere countries. Today, beach tennis is a competitive sport in many European countries and other parts of the world, but it is more popular in Italy, Spain, and Brazil.
- In what countries is Beach Tennis played?
Beach Tennis is mainly played in Italy, Brazil, France, and Russia.
Other countries where this sport is played are Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, the UK, Slovenia, Cyprus, Croatia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Australia, Thailand, USA, and some Latin America countries, among others.