Thursday, June 18, 2009

Earnshaw Sees BTUSA 'Earnin' Exposure in Tide Water

After blazing the Virginia Beach sand to the beat of an entertaining, down to the wire tournament, Beach Tennis USA could potentially explore uncharted waters.

Carl Earnshaw, who spearheads the Mother of President state's Special Olympics, is entertaining thoughts about integrating Beach Tennis USA as the newest event.

Earnshaw, who's coached tennis on all levels, took in Beach Tennis USA's Virginia Beach Blast back on June 7.

The event, which saw Chris Henderson and Phil Whitesell catapult to victory, raised eyebrows and left the Southeast Section director intrigued.

"Obviously tennis is a growing sport for us," explained Earnshaw, he of the light years long sports resume and soft southern drawl.

"We are actively promoting that at all levels, ages 8 and over. We are always looking for new sports out there that we can be able to use as a demonstration for our athletes to try out. We want to set something up because beach tennis is so portable...Obviously it works best on the sand, but we can even do it on the grass to introduce people to the game. I'm excited, I'm glad Jim (Lorenzo) talked about coming back (to Virginia Beach) next year."

The tidewater area is where Earnshaw envisions significant Beach Tennis buildup.

Virginia Wesleyan College, located in Hampton Roads (where the main shoreline is located) has already embraced the growing sand sport.

VWU, a Division-III program on the Old Dominion Athletic Conference landscape, implements Beach Tennis practices.

Head coach Frank Early utilizes the sport as a means of tuning up his team's serves, enhancing their reflexes at net and spiking their cardio levels.

Earnshaw has talked with Early about incorporating beach tennis as part of the olympic village that Special Olympics Virginia employs as part of their competition.

"(Early) was very interested in that, he wanted to be a part of that," explained Earnshaw.

Special Olympics has become increasingly popular over the past few years.

Opening hearts and altering minds and viewpoints, Virginia's branch of Special Olympics hosts over 200 competitions a year.

"I think it's a great match (for the program)," Earnshaw said.

"I think during the downtime in between events they'd like to have something they'd be able to do."

Earnshaw also delved into the college perspective. He feels that playing the sport on the intramural levels would help it garner national visibility and help it flower.

"Those people that do not make a college team are becoming more and more in huge numbers. I think this is a sport that can have a lot of potential for growth and exposure. If you've got volleyball areas and you lower the net down it could be a wonderful addition," he said.

The sport's minimal expense and easy set-up is another major selling point.

"When it's portable it can be done every place in the sand. There are some recreation parks that have four tennis courts, four volleyball courts and gazebo, and they could be good spots for beach tennis."