If tennis is your sport but you also love your beaches then how about combining the two sports? Yep, we are referring to beach tennis (which is an official sport, mind!) and if you are looking for any information around it, you have come to the right page. Find below all that you wanted to about beach tennis right from its history to where things stand right now.
The game of tennis has been around since 1873, meaning it has been played for over 140 years. In contrast, beach tennis is a relatively new game, founded in the early 2000s but only becoming really popular and recognised internationally over the last few years.
The two sports have many similarities, of course, they are both tennis, but beach tennis, also known as beach paddleball, is of course played on the beach and has its own set of rules.
Beach tennis is fun for a whole host of reasons – it is fast, it is pacy, it is exciting, it can be recreational or competitive, it is fantastic for fitness, it is a game of great skill and talent and it is wonderful to watch. Beach tennis is a competitive sport and an internationally recognised sport, played in over 53 countries.
Let’s take a closer look.
What’s the History of Beach Tennis?
Beach tennis was first played in Italy.
It was on a stunning beach on the Italian coastal town of Ravenna, where a group of tennis players decided to set up a game. They had their own tennis rackets (or racquets, whichever spelling you prefer) and tennis balls, and they used the volleyball nets that were already on the beach, making up the rules as they went along.
Word spread, as it does, and soon there were people playing beach tennis not just in Italy, but also in Brazil and Spain and the USA. From there, the game exploded in popularity and today, beach tennis is played in over 53 countries.
As more people discovered and played beach tennis, so it became a more sophisticated game. The right height net was discussed and designed and players identified that they needed a low compression tennis ball.
The game itself was fun and fabulous and took off on beaches all over the world, at the same time as becoming extremely competitive. In the same way sports lovers would look for volleyball on the beach, so sports lovers and tennis lovers started seeking out beach tennis. Slowly, it turned from a fun activity into a professional sport.
Once beach tennis was firmly on the map, it started becoming more well organized.
The International Federation of Beach Tennis, earlier called the Italian Federation of Beach Tennis was created by Italian Giandomenico Bellettini who also trademarked the game. He and his team arranged the first Beach Tennis European Championship in 1997.
By this time the net was the right height – 6.5 feet (1.7 meters), the balls were perfect for the game, and the rules had been decided upon. This Championship was hugely popular, resulting in even more players and more countries getting involved in the game.
The Beach Tennis World Championship followed on a few years later, in 2001, also hosted by Italy.
As the game became more popular, so did the rules and regulations. After much negotiation, the International Tennis Federation became the regulatory body for beach tennis worldwide, bringing more structure to the game and hosting and sponsoring tournaments. Today, the ITF manages and regulates beach tennis tournaments and rankings
What are the Rules of Beach Tennis?
It was Giandomenico Bellettini who decided upon the name of the sport – beach tennis as opposed to paddle tennis, and it was Bellettini who wrote the rules. Apart from being the founder of the Italian Federation of Beach Tennis, he was a player too. Today the games and tournaments are managed and regulated by the International Tennis Federation, who also manage the rules and train staff worldwide.
Because of its popularity, beach tennis is not only played on the beach but inland too, on the same size courts and with exactly the same rules as if it was being played on sand. The game of beach tennis is played very similarly to that of ordinary tennis, of course on a smaller court but with similar regulations and rules.
You can note the Beach Tennis rules & regulations below:
The Beach Tennis Court & Equipment
- A beach tennis court is 4.5 m long and 8 m wide for singles.
- A beach tennis courts is 16 m long and 8 m wide for a doubles.
- The court is divided in half by a net made of mesh that the ball cannot pass through.
- A beach tennis court for formal matches consists of stakes, lines or rope and a net.
- The height of the net is 1.70 m high.
- The perimeter lines of the court are a maximum of 5 cms.
- The perimeter lines must be a different colour to the sand and clearly visible.
- The tennis balls are 6.4 cms with a mass of 38-40 grams.
- The racket volley size is 7.6 cms, with a mass of 44 grams.
- Beach tennis racket must be a maximum length of 55 cms and maximum width of 30 cms.
- There are no strings, the racket is more of a paddle with a flat surface.
Beach Tennis Rules
- The players draw or toss rackets to see who will serve first and who will be on which side.
- The players stand on opposite sides of the net.
- The server begins and serves from the baseline and cannot step over the line until he or she has connected with the ball.
- The server only has one serve per point.
- The server can stand anywhere along the baseline to serve and can serve anywhere in the opposite court, whether for singles or doubles.
- The server throws the ball into the air, makes contact with the racket and hits the ball overhand.
- Underhand serves are only permissible in mixed doubles.
- If the server breaks any rules, he or she loses the point.
- A net serve is permissible and play continues.
- The receiver can stand anywhere on his or her side of the court to return a ball.
- Receivers cannot move towards the net until the serve has commenced.
- If the receiver breaks any rules, he or she loses the point.
Beach Tennis Scoring
- Like tennis – love, 15, 30, 40 and game.
- A game cannot go to deuce more than three times, the fourth time determines the winner.
- The winner of the set is that player who scores 7 games with a margin of 2 games, meaning it can go to 9.
- Tie breaks are played at 6 all.
- Tie breaks only include one more game to determine the final winner of the set. The score would therefore be 7-6.
What is the Difference between Tennis & Beach Tennis?
You can see that the biggest difference between tennis and beach tennis is the size of the court, the positioning of the players, the one-serve only, and the scoring of the games.
- If a ball is hit out of the court, that player loses the point.
- If a ball does not reach over the net, that player loses the point.
- A player cannot touch his own bounding playing field.
- Balls that touch the lines are considered to be in.
- Net balls are acceptable.
Champion games have umpires and the umpires have the final word.
What is the Beach Tennis Equipment?
We mentioned about that a beach tennis court is made up of a few stakes, the lines or rope and a net. The equipment needed by players is a racket or paddle, and of course the beach ball. There are a number of good or designer tennis brands, such as MBT, HP and Tom Caruso.
Beach Tennis Paddles
There are a wide range of tennis paddles available online. The best thing to do is look at your price range, as you will find paddles starting at around $45 and going up to over $200.
A player would choose the paddle according to their size and their weight (a child, a teen, an adult) and also, their ability. The better you are as a player, the better you want your racket to be. If you are an up-and-coming player, you will also want a good beach tennis paddle so that your game can improve. The better the paddle, the better your game, although you do need to practice too!
The Beach Tennis Store in Miami offers the best Paddle brands like MBT, Outride, HP and Tom Caruso. You can also find beach tennis balls online and they usually come in packs of three. Again, top brands include Tom Caruso and MBT.
Beach Tennis Clothing
This is a big part of the game. This is not like Wimbledon, where the players need to be elegant and in all-white. Rather, they need to wear minimal clothing as they are on the beach where they are diving around in the sand and falling a fair amount too.
Beach tennis clothing must be practical, but it’s usually similar to gym clothing – tight fitting and good for speed.You will get all the accessories such as wrist bands, caps and paddle covers online too.
Many of the larger sports clothing and equipment stores, worldwide, sell beach tennis clothing, equipment and accessories.
Beach Tennis Nets
There are a variety of beach tennis nets on the market, including the brands Beach Tennis, Colinsa and GoPlus. When you buy the net from Beach Tennis, it comes with the stakes and ropes too, as an ‘all in one’ package.The nets are portable and some of them can be adjusted to suit other sports too.
Beach Tennis Balls
As mentioned above, these usually come in packs of three. The top brands include Tom Caruso and MBT.
Beach Tennis Tournaments recognised by the ITF
Recognised beach tennis tournament must be authorised by the International Tennis Federation. There are four different kinds of championships, which include regional, national, continental and international. Some are professional and some are advanced.
The ITF requests that any organisation wanting to put together a tournament contact the ITF at least 30 days in advance. Organisers will find an application form online. The ITF put together a calendar of events for each season of tennis, and they regulate the rankings.
One can use the Internet to find a listing of all the beach tennis tournaments and will be delighted to find tournaments in countries such as South Africa, Scotland, all around Europe including Western and Eastern Europe, Ireland, Canada, Britain, The Caribbean, The United States, South America, Qatar and New Zealand. Currently there are over 300 recognised tournaments in 37 countries, and let’s not forget Italy where it all started!
Some of the flagship beach tennis tournaments that have been sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation include:-
- ITF Beach Tennis World Championships
- ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship
- Regional Championships in Europe.
- Regional Championships in Africa.
- Regional Championships in the Americas.
ITF Beach Tennis World Championship
This is the biggest championship that takes place and the most important. In 2020 it will be played in Italy, on the beaches of Terracina. Details are still to be formally announced, but registration is open for players here.
A few of the other tournaments over the holiday season include:
- The Christmas Cup, Russia.(St. Petersburg, 21 and 22 Dec)
- Beach Arena New Year Cup (Latvia, 28 and 29 Dec)
- Torneo ITF Beach Tennis Navidad Spain. (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 28/29/30 Dec)
Thereafter you can look at the ITF website, click on the link for beach tennis and hopefully, find a tournament near you.
Beach tennis has also become huge in the USA, so much so that many tennis clubs now have ‘beach tennis courts’ even if not on the beach. Beach tennis can be played inland too, same size courts and same regulations, just – inland. Here is some more information for you on beach tennis in the USA.
What about Beach Tennis in USA?
Beach tennis made a delayed appearance in USA. We know it started in Italy, spread to Brazil and Spain, and then arrived in America around 2005.
It was American Marc Althea who was in Aruba in 2003, learned about the game and became determined to bring it ‘home.’ He did, forming Beach Tennis SA, signing television deals with SNY in New York and the Tennis Channel.
The first American beach tennis tournament was in 2007 in South Carolina, followed by the Beach Tennis USA 2008 tournament in Florida. The game grew in popularity, both recreationally and professionally, and today there are many American beach tennis tournaments.
The International Tennis Federation, based in America, has the information around beach tennis and which tennis clubs also promote beach tennis. Of course you can just go to the beach in the States and you’ll find men and women, kids and teens, playing beach tennis for fun.
There are some excellent beach tennis stores in the States, and of course you can buy online too.
Beach tennis is fantastic. Think of the beaches you have been to where you’ve seen people playing beach volleyball, beach cricket or beach soccer.
Beach tennis has joined the ranks of those wonderful games and it’s a fun and fast sport, and competitive too. You may want to see if you have the talent too. You only need to learn how to serve, return, volley, and somehow, keep the ball in the court!