Beach tennis

 #keepadistance

Under the auspices of the ITF (International Tennis Federation), beach tennis is the third official variety of tennis, next to traditional and wheelchair tennis. It is currently rapidly-growing sport with a bold aim of ITF to become the leading beach sport. When we consider beach volleyball or beach soccer it seems not realistic so far.

Attention, this article is also available in Polish:
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Beach tennis is a combination of tennis, badminton and beach volleyball. The game is played on a 16x8 meter sand court, which is identical to that in volleyball. The net is 1,7 m high, making the game more like badminton than tennis. You play with special paddles that have no string like traditional tennis rackets. Instead, they are completely built-up and only have small holes that help overcome air resistance. Also, the balls are slightly different, two-colored yellow-orange with low compression, they are softer than traditional ones. You can serve from above and below but you are not entitled to a second service. The traditional net is also not allowed. The most important difference, however, is that the ball cannot touch the ground, which is obvious because it won't bounce off the sand anyway. So always play it straight from the air. It is mainly a doubles game, but it is possible to play single; the width of the court is 4.5 m then. Scoring is exactly the same as in tennis, except that at the state of 40-40 the so-called golden ball, no advantage, winning action resolves the game.

Currently, the official ITF Beach Tennis Tour comprises over 300 tournaments in 37 countries, with the sport's flagship competitions including the ITF Beach Tennis World Championships and the ITF Beach Tennis World Team Championship, as well as regional Championships in Europe, Africa and the Americas. There is also a ranking of players kept by ITF.

Beach tennis was created in the early 1970s in Italy. In 2007, it became a professional sport discipline approved by the ITF. It has been dominated by Italians and Brazilians for many years, although players from other countries, e.g. Russians, are beginning to break through. In Poland, this discipline is in its infancy, but in 2011 the Beach Tennis PL Association was founded in order to promote it. With the development and increasing popularity of Polish beach tennis, the Polish Beach Tennis Federation was established. In 2017, the Polish Championships, International ITF Tournaments, were already organized and the Polish national team took part in the European Championships. We will see what happens next.

Beach tennis also appeared in philately. For now, very limited in scope but as the discipline develops, the number will probably increase. To start, I present what I currently have in my collection.

Il.1 Togo stamps and souvenir sheet presenting beach tennis, but more specifically top Italian players in action.

Il.2 Israeli FDC with beach tennis in the lead role

Il.3 Italian commemorative stamp of the Terracina Beach World Championships 2019

Il.4 Occasional stamp: II Mediterranean Beach Games. An occasional envelope demonstrating beach tennis, one of the disciplines of the Games.

I took information from ITF, PFTP and Sport Transfer www.sites.

Illustrations are ​​from my own collection (partly a continuation of the Karl-Josef Schlömer collection)