Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Earnshaw Eager To Add Beach Tennis

A series of summer fun may be in store for Carl Earnshaw, the director of Special Olympics Virginia's Southeast Section.

Earnshaw witnessed the spanking new sand sport unfold at Virginia Beach June 6-7, when the doubles team of Phil Whitesell and Chris Henderson cruised to a first-place victory at the Virginia Beach Blast.

The competition level was ratcheted up a notch in the professionals division.

Local product Yakov Diskin--a junior on the Old Dominon University tennis team-and Alfredo Galvez steered the Virginia Beach boat deep into playoff territory.

Beach bums witnessing the sport for the first time were won over by the entertaining, electrifying duo.

Both players mastered the transition from gravel to the sand, adjusting to the unique tennis/volleyball hybrid that features a lowered volleyball net and depressurized tennis ball (the type that high school teams tend to practice with).

Doubles tennis in the sand, baby. How about it?


Other two-man wrecking crews made an immediate impact on the Beach Tennis landscape.

Guilliermo Becerra and Ricky Lowy stamped their fingerprints on the event, rolling to a convincing first place finish in the amateur tournament and later competing in the pro division for the first time.

After making quick work of the amateurs, however, the Lowy-Becerra tandem were quickly disposed of at the higher plateau.

The Old Dominion students were quickly negated by the hard-serving Henderson (a rotund railsplitter who recently shattered a spectator's eyeglasses during a game) and the box cutter-sharp Whitesell.

Whitesell, a savvy veteran, complements his partner's hard-hitting style with a fundamentally sound game.

Let's not forget, both of these players were once in Lowy and Becerra's shoes. The sudden jump to Beach Tennis was no small order for them. Whitesell and Henderson were once was once rookies themselves, soaking in the rules and intracacies of the new under-the-sun game.

Beach Tennis USA director Jim Lorenzo jokingly sees the Whitesell-Henderson squad mastering the transition from the sand courts to the broadcast booths.

Lorenzo and tournament announcer J.R. Rarrick continue to quip about 2009 being the aging players' last year on the national tour.

After all, both players are on the wrong side of 30 but likely won't hang the rackets up until they've reached the ultimatum: a national championship.

Earnshaw drank in this fun competition at Virginia Beach. He's intrigued at the notion of creating a Beach Tennis USA event in the Special Olympics.

"Special Olympics is the way the world should be; rich in understanding and joy and showing no judgment," explained Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President on the website, www.specialolympicsva.org.

"What we try to create at a Special Olympics event is a welcome environment where everyone can participate on equal footing; athletes, family members, volunteers and the community."

Stay tuned for an exclusive feature on Earnshaw and the prospect of Beach Tennis USA being incorporated into Special Olympics...