Action shot - 30 July 2014
CERVIA, ITALY: For the first time in its history, the ITF Beach Tennis World Championship in Cervia began with a qualifying round on Wednesday.
The increased interest in the sport has attracted a large amount of players to the tournament on Italy’s east coast, all hoping to make it through to the main event which starts on 1 August.
The qualifying round consists of 52 men's doubles and 20 ladies doubles entrants, the majority of those Italian, but there are a number of internationals who have come from far and wide to participate.
Ricardo Pagliuca of Venezuela pairs up with Louis Posner of Aruba in Qualifying A, Svyatoslav Tektov of Russia with Mikhail Volkovich of Lithuania and the Belarus pair Alexander Akoulitch and Boldryrev Konitantin in Qualifying D.
The ladies' event includes three Russian pairs and two Austrian pairs, all inspired by the highest seeds in the ladies main event which are also made up of national pairings such as Brazil's Samantha Barijan and Joana Cortez and French twins Marie Eve and Mathilde Hoarau.
Over 22 different nationalities are represented at the tournament this year, with Puerto Rico, Japan, Honduras and Morocco among the more exotic of the entries. No matter where they come from, however, all will be hoping to put Italian dominance in the sport under pressure to deliver on home sand and put their nation on the international Beach Tennis map.