Photo: Stuart BarracloughEBTC V - Friday
BORGO MAGGIORE, SAN MARINO: It was no surprise that Italians were strong favourites to reach the European Beach Tennis Championships finals as both of the men’s and ladies’ semifinals featured Italian teams.
In the ladies event, Federica Bacchetta and Giulia Spazzoli (Italy) faced the Russians Irina Bulykina and Gulnara Fattakhetdinova. Having reached the final in 2011, the Russians looked strong with Fattakhetdinova hitting home powerful smashes throughout the match. But the Italians’ reactions and control proved too good as they kept the ball back in play and took the first set 63.
Italian consistency ultimately won them the match as they upped their game on the big points to keep the pressure on the Russians and booked themselves a place in the finals 63 63.
Over on centre court, Simona Bonadonna and Eva D’Elia had their work cut out as they took on Pilar Escandell and Rosa Sitja. Having defeated an Italian team in the previous year the Spanish combination were looking to repeat their triumph. But it was not meant to be.
Always in control, the Italians cruised to a 62 win in the first set and repeated the score line in the second to confirm an all Italian final 62 62.
Over in the men’s semis, top seeds Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli faced Antonio Ramos-Veira and Roman Dopico-Rodriguez. Having recently enjoyed success at top ITF events with local favourite William Forcellini, Ramos-Veira and his compatriot were not lacking support from the crowd as the match produced some truly world class beach tennis.
A score line not representative of the quality of the Spanish team but rather proof of the Italians’ mastery of the sport saw the Italians book a place in the final 62 60.
The second semifinal was not without its drama as sixth seeded Slovenians Urban Cevka and Bostjan Repansek faced Marco Garavini and Paolo Tazzari. Trading blow for blow, the Slovenians power kept their opponents on the back foot as the Italians were forced into a defensive game.
But the Romans’ defensive game is just as strong as their attacking one and seizing every opportunity to close out the points, the Italians held on to the first set 64. Far from defeated, the Slovenians were relentless in their attack as they found themselves serving for the second set 54 40-30.
Unable to convert their set points the Slovenians soon found themselves trailing 6-5. Once again they outplayed the Italians to give themselves two points to force the set into a tie break. The Italian nerve however was unfaltering. Bring the game to deciding point deuce, an angled dropshot by Cevka caught the net cord an fell on the Slovenian side to end the Slovenian dream and gift the Italians a place in the finals 64 75.