Photo: Stuart BarracloughEBTC V - Friday
BORGO MAGGIOR, SAN MARINO: The ladies got the finals off to a flying start as Simona Bonadonna and partner Eva D’Elia played some of the best beach tennis seen at the Championships to overcome the challenge from their compatriots and tournament favourites top seeded pair Giulia Spazzoli and Federica Bacchetta.
Lightening reactions from Bonadonna left her opponents without a way past as smash after smash came back over the net while her partner D’Elia consistently found the gaps smashing home winners from all sides of the court. 61 in the first set and the top seeds we in serious trouble.
Composing themselves at the set break they came out fighting in the second set but there was no let up from their compatriots as they were left in the sand in a desperate attempt to reach the perfectly weighted drop shots, lobs and passes of their opponents.
Bonadonna and D’Elia quickly established a 3-0 lead in the second and looked favourites to convert their lead. It was not long before they had match points a 5-1 40-30. A unbelievable diving return from Bacchetta left her opponents stunned and the crowd cheering as the match continued at 5-2.
Giving themselves an uphill struggle, Bacchetta and Spazzoli found themselves facing two match points again which they once again managed to defend to reduce the deficit to 5-3. The crowd were deafening as they shared Bacchetta and Spazzoli’s desire for the match not to end.
The comeback however was not to be as Bonadonna and D’Elia made no mistakes in the next game to convert their fifth match point and take the crown of European Beach Tennis Champions 60 63.
Not to be outdone, the men’s match produced the most exhilarating men’s final the Championships has seen as Paolo Tazzari and Marco Garavini faced top seeds and compatriots Luca Carli and Michele Cappelletti.
The first set went according to plan for the favourites as a series of errors by Tazzari and Garavini on the major points gave the set away 62. Seeing their title hopes slipping away, the second seeds came out aggressively in the second set denying Cappelletti the chance to use his deadly smash and making their opponents fight for every point.
Before they knew it, the tables were turned and Cappelletti and Carli were 3-0 down in the second set with a mountain too great for them to climb. To the delight of the crowd, the match was forced into a third set 26 63.
An early break to give Tazzari and Garavini a 2-1 was not part of the top seeds’ plan. Trading smash for smash, the first match point went as quickly as it came as a Cappelletti serve at 5-3 deuce did not make it back over the net. 5-4 Tazzari to serve.
The pressure showed as Tazzari hit his fourth service fault of the game to see the second match point slip away as another sudden death deuce went in favour of Cappelletti and Carli to level the score at 5-5. Both teams holding serve, the final was inevitably and fittingly decided on a tie break.
Racing to a 6-2 lead, Tazzari and Garavini had the trophy in their sights. A massive point and an unbelievable block by Carli was enough to keep them in the match but challenge was too great as they saw the title slip away 26 63 76(4) as Garavini and Tazzari were crowned men’s European Beach Tennis Champions.