Photo: ITF Beach Tennis2013 ITF Beach Tennis World Championships - Press Conference and draw ceremony
It was a great turnout for the Opening Ceremony and the official draw for the 2013 ITF Beach Tennis World Championships being held at the Bagno Delfino in Cervia, Italy.
The weather was fantastic and as often happens when you combine sports with sunshine: people were smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves.
The opening ceremony paid tribute to all of the 21 nations taking part in the tournament by bringing on their respective flags onto a beach tennis court with players and fans applauding all other nations but showing real passion as their country's flag was presented.
The nations participating in the event range from established beach tennis countries such as Italy and Brazil to Venezuela and Slovakia, demonstrating that the sport is quickly becoming an international favourite.
The press conference that followed welcomed the many players, some of whom had travelled extremely far to partake in the tournament, to Cervia and the Bagno Delfino establishment that is hosting the event.
The Councillor of Cervia Michele de Pascale expressed his views that the tournament held in such a public arena would help the onlookers, especially the young ones, to interact and be inspired by the athletes competing in the tournament.
The draw was done live in front of the players and many curious onlookers and almost immediately the atmosphere changed as the players tensed up with anticipation to see who they would face. In the men's draw some games of note are Alex Mingozzi and Nicola Gambi who face a tough first round playing against Maurizio di Cori and William Forcellini.
Elsewhere Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli, who went out early last year despite having been among the favourites, will be looking to do better this year as they play against Olivier Samaran and Martin Schmidt. However the pair that everyone will be wanting to avoid is Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini.
The women's draw was missing a crucial element as Simona Briganti and Laura Oliviera, the pair that had won it twice in a row the past two years would not be participating in this event. Leaving many hopeful of a shot at the coveted title. Among the favourites are Giulia Curzi and Giulia Spazzoli.
The players then boarded an open top bus with their respective country's flag and proceeded to tour the town of Cervia and were shown many sights that can be found along the coast of Emilia Romagna.
There was also the most Italian of rituals: an aperitivo on the beach with all the players chatting and laughing with one another yet fully aware that tomorrow the fight for the Beach Tennis World Championship would begin.
Play starts tomorrow the 31st of July at 9:30 local time (7:30 GMT) with the first round of women's and men's matches. Play will resume around 14:30 (12:30 GMT) to complete the first round of all draws with mixed being the last set of matches in what promises to be a very entertaining tournament.