The 8th annual World Beach Tennis Championships returned to Long Beach last weekend.
The tournament draws top-ranked, professional players from around the world to compete for a $10,000 prize purse. CEO and founder of Beach Tennis USA, Marc Altheim, said that the event had about 250 players, including participants in the amateur contest, and thousands of spectators on the beach passing though all weekend.
In the men’s finals, Alex Mingozzi, of Italy, and Vinicius Font, of Brazil, won 6-3-7-5 over Thales Santos and Marcus Ferreira of Brazil. In the women’s final, Joanna Cortez, of Brazil, and Eva Delia, of Italy, won 7-5-3-6-6-3 over Maraike Biglmaier, of Germany, and Simons Bonnadonna of Italy. All games are played with teams of doubles.
Beach Tennis USA is an organization that promotes the sport across North America. Altheim said that about 20,000 to 30,000 people play the sport in the region. But the group is trying to grow that number with initiatives like the weekend’s amateur contest and kids programs at the Recreation Center and in the physical education curriculum at Long Beach Schools.
“Long Beach is the ideal venue,” Altheim said. “It’s an athletic, happening place. You have a city on the beach with people who are very active, and it attracts people from New York City. We’re trying to make Long Beach the beach tennis capital of the U.S.”
Altheim and the president of Beach Tennis USA, Jim Lorenzo, a Long Beach resident, are hoping the accessibility of the sport will help it catch on. People usually have an easy time picking up beach tennis compared to some other beach sports, like volleyball, Altheim said.
Beach Tennis USA will most likely have a few courts lined up at the Michelle O’Neill Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 6, and plan to return for the championship tournament next year. Altheim said they also hope to start a summer weekly league in Long Beach next year.