Win a trip for two to Aruba
Originally published on: 12/06/13 00:00
Every November, the world’s best gather for the Aruba International Beach Tennis Tournament, widely known as the Grand Slam of beach tennis.
The world’s top player, Alessandro Calbucci, may not enjoy the fame and fortune of the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but beach tennis is not just for holidaymakers and beach bums.
The sport has origins in Italy, Spain and Brazil, but it is the Italians who have traditionally dominated the sport, with Rome’s iconic venue, Foro Italico, playing host to the inaugural ITF world championships in 2009, held alongside the WTA event in the Italian capital.
Beach tennis has been played in Aruba since 2000, and since the Aruba International was established in 2002, the event has grown beyond recognition. After welcoming 700 entrants in 2012, organisers expect this year’s tournament to be even bigger.
“This year, I am expecting around 1,000 competitors in all categories at pro level, amateur level and in the youth event,” says tournament organiser Jochem Ros.
The beach culture plays a big part in the sport, with a party atmosphere on Eagle Beach during the event. For the week of November 12-17, a ‘village’ will be erected on the sand, offering a food court featuring world cuisine, bars, shops and live music alongside the 20 beach tennis courts.
“It is festival atmosphere – of course the main event is the beach tennis but there is a lot going on,” Ros explains. “There is a melting pot of cultures; Brazilians, Europeans, Americans – we have DJs playing every day and live bands.”
But it is not just a bit of fun – the professionals will be playing for a record $25,000 prize money, and beach tennis continues to enjoy a huge surge in popularity around the world, with the aspirations of one day being part of the Olympics.
“It is a realistic aspiration for beach tennis to be an Olympic sport,” Ros declares. “Most sports added to the Olympic Games are disciplines of existing Olympic sports. The ITF is very powerful – probably the most influential governing body after the IOC and FIFA.
“If you compare our sport to beach volleyball, it is a similar atmosphere but beach tennis is still a young sport and will take time – it will be at least 10 years before it becomes an Olympic sport but its reputation is growing all over the world.”