It takes two guys from the Bible Belt to know that you don’t need a prayer to win this year’s 2009 Beach Tennis USA national championship.
Phil Whitesell and Chris Henderson, two South Carolina natives who’ve spent this summer shredding up opponents in the sand, are typically giving each other verbal beatdowns and ripping each other before matches.
Of course, it's all in good fun.
Whitesell constantly takes shots at the hefty Henderson.
Henderson, on the other hand, has jokingly called Whitesell's sexuality into question.
Whitesell says that Henderson has always been the Robin to his Batman.
He describes his partner as a rotund railsplitter who bails himself out via his powerful blast of a serve, one which few on American soil can counter.
It’s no laughing matter heading into this week, when the tandem hopes to stake their claim as the top Beach Tennis USA team in the country.
Henderson’s serve is so hard that he accidently shattered someone’s glasses while serving at a recent event. Whitesell’s work ethic and feel for the game is so potent, you would think he’s been playing for a decade. Of course, he does have a tennis background. Whitesell played at Southern California before making the transition from the gravel to the sand.
This week in Long Beach, N.Y., the Henderson-Whitesell tandem looks to avenge a loss from last year’s champions, Italians Matteo Marighella and Alex Mingozzi.
Marighella and Mingozzi have ruled the Beach Tennis USA circuit with an iron fist.
They are coming into New York eyeing their third straight national championship.
While the outspoken team of Marty Salokas and Donnie Young have already said they will deny the Italian stallions a threepeat, it is Whitesell and Henderson who truly want the monkey off their back.
“We gave them the best game any team has ever given them (during last year’s national championship),” said Henderson. It was Henderson who kept the dream of defeating the champs alive with his “sock save” and other eye-popping plays before the Italians pulled away.
“Any time they (Mingozzi and Marighella) are on U.S. soil, we’ll be ready to play them.”
With their trademark sunglasses and headbands, Marighella and Mingozzi have risen to surefire stardom.
The dominant duo will look to reach the zenith of their young careers this year at the National Championship in the scorching sand.
Here’s a look at their monster work ethic and unmatched skill set that keeps them above the competition:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uotPUDXxxk MINGOZZI AND MARIGHELLA ON QUI WELLNESS TV FEATURE
They were virtually untouchable the past two seasons in Long Beach, head-and-shoulders above the competition and untested until the title match.