23 Nov 2017

European players shine in Aruba

News Article

By Nick Fishpool

Photo: Massimo MorelliBacchetta and Gasparri vs D'Elia and Visani

ORANJESTAD, ARUBA: Following on from staging the fifth annual Pan American Championships, Aruba played host to a $35,000 tournament over 17-19 November which saw the world’s top players arrive as the Europeans looked to take centre stage on the Caribbean island.

Always a big draw for players as the beach tennis season begins to wind down, at $35,000 this was the joint second highest prize money on offer in 2017 and the tournament saw a number of players from the previous week’s Pan American Championships staying on including the men’s champions Ali Colmenares and Ramon Guedez, although the Venezuelan pair were now competing with different partners, and Joana Cortez and Rafaella Miiller, the women’s Pan American title winners.

The tournament also welcomed back its 2016 men's winners Michele Cappelletti and Luca Carli and the women’s title winners Martina Corbara and Ninny Valentini.

Tournament referee, Massimo Morelli, commented on the tournament's appeal to players: "[This] tournament has a very long tradition and it has been held on Eagle Beach since 2012.  Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beach of Aruba and its white sand and blue sea are the perfect location for a continuously growing tournament."

In keeping with the tournament's growth, after completion of qualifying events, the main draws each consisted of a full quota of 32 pairings and of the qualifiers it was Edoardo Ranaudo and Luca Stefanizzi who particularly impressed. The Italian duo first eliminated Japanese wild cards in round one before causing an upset when posting a straight sets win over the eighth seeded Ivan Syrov and Paolo Tronci.

However, a quarterfinal against the top seeds Luca Cramarossa and Marco Garavini saw them brought back down to Earth with the reigning European Champions dropping just one game.

In the women’s event, last year’s champs Corbara and Valentini found themselves named the fifth seeds as they mounted a defence of their title and opened with a 60 61 defeat of home nation players Maria Buuts and Maud Celaire but Russia’s Julia Chubarova and Ekaterina Kamenetckaia ended their hopes of back-to-back success in the quarterfinal.

Of the Pan American Championship winners, it was Cortez and Miiller who faired the better. With the men’s champions each being eliminated in the opening round, the Brazilian women progressed through to the semifinal before making an exit at the hands of the 2017 European and World Champions Federica Bacchetta and Giulia Gasparri despite having taken the opening set with the loss of just one game.

After surviving their semifinal scare to reach the final, second seeds Bacchetta and Gasparri faced their fourth seeded compatriots Eva D’Elia and Veronica Visani for the title whilst the men’s title match pitted European Champions versus World Champions as Cramarossa and Garavini lined up against Cappelletti and Carli.

The two finals produced identical 63 62 results with Bacchetta and Gasparri taking the women’s title and their male European champion counterparts edging out the World champs in the men’s final as Garavini improved on this 2016 runner-up finish alongside Alessandro Calbucci.

It was a great effort from Bacchetta who was not sure she would even be able to play this event following an injury layoff. "Three weekends before this tournament I had an injury and until the last week I didn't know if I could play or not!" the world number three stated. "If i think about that I couldn't imagine this end!"

Speaking after the conclusion of the men's final, Cramarossa was in elated mood proclaiming: "Winning Aruba was the greatest emotion in my life, playing in the central court full of people."

Turning his attention to their opponents, he went on to add: "Carli and Cappelletti in major tournaments such as the World [Championships] and Aruba play very well, so winning [here in] Aruba against them in the final is even more satisfying."

Cramarossa also gave praise for the tournament organisation and confirmed that for him and Garavini this would be their last action of the season and they would now be focussing on 2018 but that he looked forward to returning to Aruba next year.

Also reflecting upon the tournament, and the week as a whole, referee Morelli said: "The ITF event was a success in terms of organisation, participants and public [attendance].

With the main action played out over five courts, including the main centre court, Morelli delighted in sharing: "[The] stands were full since the very first day, with particular regards to the night session" and there were also a further 31 courts "Dedicated to many other amateur events" which included singles, mixed, junior and team competitions.

Morelli adds that the week's statistics saw "More than 800 foreigners travel this year to Aruba to take part [in] all these events." 

The popularity of those night sessions, which were witnessed by more than 2,500 people, was the inclusion of daily end of play parties to which all were welcome to attend.

The sun may have now set on the last prize money tournament of 2017 in the Caribbean but the season is not over just yet in the region and beach tennis will return to Aruba in the days immediately leading up to Christmas.

Sun sets on event