Saturday, June 6, 2009

Virginia Beach Blast

Virginia Beach, Va.--Handfuls of young Beach Tennis professionals swarmed Virginia Beach Saturday.

The Virginia Beach Blast was one of several sand sport events thrust to forefront on a scorching Saturday afternoon.

While inclement weather hovered over the beach from Wednesday to Friday, Saturday gave way to the sizzling sun.

The beach was jam-packed. Athletes on both the men's and women's side drew bi-partisan crowds.

Residents were immersed in the action for the first time.

Newcomers learned the intracacies of the game.

Thus, many got acclimated to playing doubles tennis on the sand, with a shortened volleyball net.

Athletes flexed their competitive muscles, diving for balls in the sand and serving bullets over the net.

Others were entertained, drinking in the sport and placid ocean environment.

Folks in need of a workout used beach tennis to cut the bulge in the belly and carve it into a beach body.

Beach Tennis is beginning to splash the shoreline, surfacing as one of the most popular sand sports in Italy, Aruba, and now Jamaica.

Here in the United States, the beach sport's blink-quick evolution is starting to make waves on the grassroots circuit.

Thus, the highly sought after beach sport may be moving to Virginia's sandspots.

Local pioneers Charmaine and John Fraser have bought into the sport they envision adding to their tennis club. The Frasers are laying out a blueprint for beach tennis buildup in the area.

Albeit the game is typically played with rackets, a plethora of paddles are pouring in.

The action is getting kick-started right now, with the no.3 ranked BTUSA team in the nation, Phil Whitesell and Chris Henderson scouting the influx of talent.

Whitesell and Henderson, household names in the Beach Tennis culture, put on a show during the National Championship at Long Beach, N.Y.

Every serve was a war, with the upset-minded tandem putting the medal to the floor.

In the end, however, Whitesell and Henderson were stifled by Italian Stallions Matteo Marighella and Alex Mingozzi, both of whom withstood a head-spinning run from the South Carolina natives.

The Italians entered this legendary match playing with house money. Freakish athleticism and experience vaulted them into a different zip code.

The changes of Mingozzi and Marighella getting knocked off were nil, but Whitesell and Henderson gave them their biggest challenge on U.S. soil.

Many players here are unknown to the loyal BTUSA masses, but this tournament has an intriguing subplot to it.

Local products Guilliermo Becerra and Ricky Lowy have staked their claim as one of the top amateur teams in the area. Both players made quick work of the amateur competition, pasting lopsided victories on opponents.

Both have a major challenge cooking on their front burner.

They would love to defend the castle, as they did during their dominant performance in the amateur tournament.

The tandem must navigate the Beach Tennis USA pressure cooker, which is only heating up with Whitesell-Henderson and an arsenal of players with their eyes keyed on the trophy.