BORGO MAGGIORE, SAN MARINO: All-Italian finals in the men’s, ladies and mixed competitions guaranteed a clean sweep for Italy at the fifth European Beach Tennis Championships as they held on to the team trophy awarded by Tennis Europe to best-performing nation in the event.
While Italy were undisputed European Champions, second place was a different matter. With Russia, Slovenia and Spain all tied on overall points, it was down to Main Draw points (excluding Consolation points) to settle the tie.
With Spain having earned all their points in main draw matches, the final standings left Spain in second place, Russia in third and Slovenia in fourth.
It was the Slovenians however who came closest to ruining the Italian party in the men’s semifinal as Urban Cevka and Bostjan Repansek sent a strong message to their opponents that the gap is closing and their days of domination are numbered.
Despite a world class performance though, they lost the first set 64 and were unable to convert set points in the second to lose the match 64 75. Taking their form into the third place play-off they captured third place on the podium seeing off the Spanish men with ease 63 60.
The Spanish team had looked dangerous from the start of the Championships as their men’s, ladies and mixed teams cruised into the semifinals. In each case though they were unable to overcome their Italian opponents.
The Russian ladies took third place ahead of Spain in a closely fought 64 62 play-off match while their best performing men’s team fell to the Spanish in the quarterfinals. The Russian mixed team were defeated by Italy in the semifinals and lost to Spain in the third place play-off as the Spaniards got revenge for the defeat of their ladies team.
Strong performances from all nations produced the highest level of beach tennis the event has seen and the next Championships, held in Great Britain in 2013, look an exciting prospect.