HISTORY OF BEACH TENNIS
Beach Tennis was first played in Ravenna, Italy. In the beginning of the 20th century, Italians played it with a tambourine. After World War II, the practice of playing the game with a bat like paddle or flat wooden paddle began; following the tradition of Matkot in Isreal and Frescobol in Brazil. The first ever Beach Tennis tournament, with its current rules but Volleyball scoring, was played on the beaches of Ravenna in 1978. The sport was introduced to Italian tourists starting in the early 80s and by 2003, it had spread throughout the world to: Buglaria, Germany, France, Poland, Australia, Brazil, Bermuda and to the island of Aruba, where BTUSA founder Marc Altheim discovered the sport.
HISTORY OF BEACH TENNIS USA
In November 2003, Marc was vacationing in Aruba with his family. After a game of Tennis at a local resort, he walked along MooMba Beach, tennis racket in hand and saw a large crowd of people gathered around what he thought were Beach Volleyball nets...but it wasn't Beach Volleyball; it was Beach Tennis. "I stood there and watched and I thought, 'This is so cool!'" Mr. Altheim recalls. "I hung around for a while and eventually I got to try the game. It was strange at first, playing tennis on the sand, but before long I really got into it. "
Mr. Altheim then was introduced to Sjoerd de Vries, who runs the Aruba Tennis Academy and is the founder of the Aruba Beach Tennis Foundation. According to Mr. de Vries, he discovered Beach Tennis in his native home, Holland and brought it to Aruba in 2000. It caught on so quickly that in 2001 he formed the Aruba Beach Tennis Foundation and began organizing events to promote the sport. In November 2002 the first International Beach Tennis Tournament was held in Aruba and in 2003 two tournaments were held. Mr. Altheim, who was in Aruba at the time, competed in the Fall 2003 tournament.
"I went home and told my friends about this great new sport I found in Aruba," says Mr. Altheim, who lives on Long Island. "The following summer, a group of us played Beach Tennis locally in the Hamptons and Atlantic Beach in New York and in Manhattan Beach in California while we were on vacation. It felt a little awkward getting out there with tennis rackets on a Beach Volleyball court, but once we started playing a crowd began to gather. They were really intrigued and, more importantly, they all really enjoyed it."
In November 2004, Mr. Altheim and his family again decided to vacation in Aruba, largely because he wanted to play in the 2004 International Beach Tennis Tournament. Over 300 participants competed day and night in the event, which now attracts players from other countries. The turnout for that event impressed Mr. Altheim so much that he enlisted his uncle, Fredric Finkelstein, an advertising and marketing executive in New York City, to officially bring Beach Tennis to the United States. Together with Sjoerd de Vries, they formed Beach Tennis USA, LLC to promote the sport in America.
Beach Tennis USA began introducing Americans to this fun and exciting new sport through a series of teaching clinics and tournaments. The inaugural Beach Tennis tour launched in the spring of 2005 with an event in Charleston, South Carolina, and then proceeded up the East Coast for the remainder of the summer. From 2007 to 2009, the Beach Tennis USA National Tour made stops in South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and California before returning to Long Beach, NY for the Championship, which has become a marquee event that attracts players from across the nation as well as around the world.
At the 2009 Beach Tennis USA National Championship, BTUSA debuted Beach Tennis using a paddle instead of conventional tennis rackets in its first ever "Paddle Battle." After the success of the paddle's debut, Beach Tennis USA officially adopted the use of the paddle to facilitate the unification of the many international Beach Tennis associations throughout Europe, South America and Asia. In 2010, Beach TEnnis USA announced a partnership with The International Tennis Federation, the world governing body of Tennis and Beach Tennis, that named Beach Tennis USA as the governing body of Beach Tennis in the United States. This agreement also marked a major step in unifying the many countries and organizations currently playing and standardizing the rules of play on an international level. Beach Tennis USA and The International Tennis Federation are working closely to get Beach Tennis into the Olympics and are hopeful their dream of Olympic glory is within reach in the next few years.