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Tennis on the beach: Brighton and Hove hosts European challenge
With the nation on a tennis high after Andy Murray’s sensational Wimbledon victory, the lesser known sport of beach tennis is to make a triumphant return to its UK home.
More than 130 players from 20 nations will descend on Brighton and Hove for this weekend’s European Championships.
The city is also well represented in the championships with four of the 12 Team GB players hailing from these parts.
Kasia Chmielewska, tournament director, told The Argus she hoped this summer’s tennis fever would continue following Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon.
She said: “I’m thrilled beach tennis is heading home. I was there when we first introduced the sport in April 2011 and Brighton and Hove has been key in its development.
“Not only have many of the training sessions and competitions been held here but many of the top players are also from Brighton.”
The European Championships is held every year with San Marino and Rome among the recent host cities.
The UK has secured the tournament for the next two years – with 2014’s host city to be confirmed.
Pic: Andrea Belli
This year’s event will be staged at Yellowave on Madeira Drive between this Friday and Sunday.
It will kick off with a lavish opening ceremony on Thursday attended by the mayor where all 20 nations will be introduced.
A temporary 100-seater stand will be erected for the three days with entry free of charge.
The sport originated from the small island of Aruba, which lies off the coast of South America, in the early 2000s.
Scoring is the same as regular tennis, but competitors have to reach seven games to win a set – compared to the standard six.
Beach tennis is popular on the continent as well as in the USA and Mexico.
The Italians are hot favourites to take away the spoils although stiff competition will come from the likes of the Spanish Portuguese and Hungarians.
Team GB is one of the less experienced teams in the draw although the players are hoping strong support from a home crowd could spur them on.
Julie Salmon from Beach Tennis UK says “We are really excited to be running the sixth edition of the championships in our hometown. Beach tennis is a great sport to watch. It is very dynamic and the players display excellent athleticism.
“This year’s event has attracted many of the world’s top players including the male and female number ones.”
The draw will take place today along with the opening ceremony. Play begins on Friday.
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