05 Feb 2014

A remarkable year on the Tour

News Article

By Stuart Barraclough

2013 World Champions - Marco Garavini, Alessandro Calbucci, Veronica Visani and Sofia Cimatti

As the ITF Beach Tennis Tour goes from strength to strength, we take a look back at another remarkable year as 2013 saw new milestones reached in all corners of the globe.

From the start of 2013 an increase from four to six results being counted towards a player’s ranking reflected the expansion of the Tour in recent years. Continuing this trend, a record 167 tournaments offering a Tour high of over US$424,000 were held during the year with 18 at Grade 1 level.

This ranking change also brought with it a more diverse rankings table as competition was fierce between players fighting to finish top of the pile and making the most of the ever increasing playing opportunities.

Mauritius got the ball rolling in March immediately followed by the longstanding Reunion Island event which moved up from Grade 2 level. Inaugural Grade 1 events in mainland France and Russia joined 15 returning Grade 1s, while Thailand rounded off the year, kick-starting its international beach tennis activities in December with the year’s highest prize money pot of $22,500 at an event that also attracted Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka to have a go.

Not only did the overall number of tournaments and prize money continue to grow, individual events also boasted higher entry figures and increased media and spectator interest. Aruba’s prestigious Grade 1 event in November saw around 1,000 participants compete across a variety of amateur categories with the professional event taking centre stage and becoming the first Tour event to provide full live coverage through the ITF website.

The ITF World Team Championship in July was not short of excitement on and off the court. As Moscow received a record 20 nations, a Zumba exhibition and a player-lead nation singing competition got the teams warmed up before they battled it out for the title. Out on court national TV filmed the action as Russia avenged their 2012 defeat to France for third place while Brazil followed suit in defeating the defending champions Italy in the final.

Two weeks later the world’s beach tennis elite flocked to Cervia for the World Championships, a site renowned in recent years for holding one of the Tour’s most popular Grade 1 events. The Championships did not disappoint, producing a hotly contested event in a region famous for its longstanding beach tennis tradition.

As music and cafes entertained crowds between matches, there was a buzz of excitement throughout the week as spectator numbers reached a record high culminating in a packed stadium of over 2,000 people for the finals which saw Sofia Cimatti and Veronica Visani and Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini become World Champions.

Britain hosted its biggest event to date as the European Championships arrived on the coastal town of Brighton. Italy held on to the titles in all events despite the German ladies Dorothee Berreth and Carina Blank eliminating the top seeds from Italy in the semifinals only to fall in the final to the second seeded Italians Flamina Daina and Michaela Zanaboni. In a repeat of the men’s final at the World Championships, Alessandro Calbucci and Marco Garavini defeated their compatriots to claim their fifth title of the year together.

A major new event was also launched in September as Brazil hosted the inaugural Pan American Championships. Having already claimed the World Team Championship title it came as little surprise that Brazilian pairs won each event as Joana Cortez and Samantha Barijan claimed the ladies’ title and Marcus Ferreira and Thales Santos took the men’s title.

A small sample of highlights from a remarkable 2013 with a great many tournaments building on previous success at all Grades from Japan to Israel, from Hungary to Argentina.

Whether a hard fought point, a career defining moment or an electric tournament atmosphere, share your 2013 Tour highlight on our Facebook page now.