Photo: SmashOnTheBeachIrina Glimakova and Anastasiya Moiseeva (RUS) action day 1
CERVIA, ITALY: The opening day of qualifying for the Beach Tennis World Championships brought fantastic play from players fighting to earn a spot in the main event and no shortage of passion from spectators.
The big surprises came in the men's qualifying event with the top seeds Luca Fontana of Italy and Luiz Gimpel of Brazil exiting in their first match and the second seeds, Levan Nanava and Alexander Stakheev of Russia, having to go the distance to see off their opponents in what was the closest match of the opening day’s play.
The Italian home advantage was evident as many of the international players exited early on. Russian duo Nanava and Stakheev were the only non-Italian men to progress to the third round.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the Russian ladies, Irina Glimakova and Anastasiya Moiseeva and Regina Livanova and Natalya Sizonenko, first and second seeds respectively, also enjoyed success and will be looking to carry on their form all the way into the main event.
The only other international left in the qualifying round is Alice Grandi from nearby San Marino. Grandi, who is partnering Italian Veronica Casadei, will have a tough match against Livanova and Sizonenko tomorrow afternoon to decide who will progress to the main event.
Tournament referee Ricardo Ragazzini was very happy with the first day of the tournament.
"It has been a great first day, everything went to plan and the atmosphere was very positive and professional," he said. "I know a lot of the players and wasn't expecting anything less from them."
Tournament director Paolo Caponigri was equally positive. "Everything was great," he enthused. "We had 70 matches on today and they all went smoothly; the weather was good for the first time in a while and it is great to see people carry on playing even after all the official matches of the day were finished.
"There are many courts here at Bagno Delfino so even the amateurs have space to play and try their luck against the professionals."
Once the main draw gets underway on Friday, spectators on centre court will also enjoy a huge 3x2m screen showing action from the court and other video features throughout the day. Those unable to attend the event will be able to watch centre court via live stream and keep up with all matches via the live scoring service.
The tournament resumes tomorrow morning with the penultimate round of the men's qualifying and the final round of the women's event. The main draw and opening ceremony will take place after 18.30.
Tomorrow promises to be a very intense day both physically and mentally for everyone involved - not least the main draw players, who will be onsite to practice and no doubt assess their potential opponents in an attempt to gain an advantage that might make winning the World Championship title that little bit easier.