Photo: Maximilian HammLuca Carli and Michele Cappelletti
As 2013 draws to a close, we can begin to cast an eye towards the upcoming 2014 season on the ITF Beach Tennis Tour.
After years of Italian dominance in the game, a new nation has emerged during the past 12 months to challenge their superiority - Brazil. In winning the World Team Championship they became the first non-Italian nation to win a major Championship title and later followed this up with success at the inaugural Pan American Championships.
Two of their top performers were Samantha Barijan and Joana Cortez. The pair combined on a regular basis and in early September their efforts paid off as they topped the ranking chart, a position they have jointly held ever since.
Other Brazilians have also been climbing the rankings. Flavia Muniz has reached number four in the ladies’ rankings while compatriot Vinicius Font has achieved the same feat on the men’s side. As Font rounded off the year with a second Grade 1 title alongside Alex Mingozzi, this new partnership looks sure to be an exciting prospect for the future.
Guilherme Prata has also held on to the number ten spot in a men’s Top Ten otherwise dominated by Italian players while Marcus Ferreira and Thales Santos are not far behind sharing eleventh place. Can the players from Brazil continue this remarkable form into the new season? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure, the heat is on for 2014!
The new partnership of Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini will be one to watch if their 2013 achievements are anything to go by as both players share the number one ranking and the title of World Champions.
It is not just Brazilian and Italian players who have enjoyed success in 2013. Players from other nations are poised to make their mark in 2014 with eleven nationalities occupying the positions 11-50 in both the men’s and women’s rankings lists.
Venezuelan Patricia Diaz will be one to watch as she began the year unranked and has since climbed up to twelfth while Pauline Bourdet has broken into the Top Ten and looks likely to stay.
The action in 2014 is all set to get underway during the second week of January with a Grade 4 in Brazil and this will be followed in week four when a Grade 1 in Brazil and a Grade 4 in Switzerland take place. In total, 12 tournaments have so far been confirmed for the opening quarter of the year and details will be listed on the ITF Beach Tennis website.
In a recent announcement, Brazil’s defence of their World Team Championship title will begin on 17 July with the four-day tournament again to be hosted by the Russian Tennis Federation for a third straight year at the National Tennis Centre in Moscow.
We also look forward to continuing to see your photos and videos from ITF Beach Tennis tournaments posted on our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages over the next 12 months and thank you all for your continued support of the wonderful sport that is beach tennis!