A new sport is heating up the beach in Burlington this weekend. While beach tennis is a hit in other parts of the world, it’s just getting started in the U.S.
“You play to music, it’s really fun, the culture is friendly, you high-five each other when you switch, you don’t get angry at each other,” said organizer Mark Bonfigli.
The first beach tennis tournament in New England is being held in the Queen City this weekend.
“There’s paddles used that are typically made of carbon fiber or fiberglass composite and the rules, it’s similar in style to badminton, the ball in this case, it’s a ball that goes back and forth and you rally back and forth until the ball hits the sand or goes out of bounds,” Bonfigli said.
The tournament drew in players from all over the world. Recently, beach tennis has started to gain traction in the U.S.
“The sport originated in Italy sort of unofficially in the ‘60s and ‘70s but then it became a more formalized sport in the ‘80s and ‘90s and now it’s headed towards the Olympics,” Bonfigli said.
“There’s a lot of players who are putting a lot of effort into actually (being) good and go around the world and it’s a really good sport to actually go to the Olympics, just an extra couple rules and it will be a great sport,” said Puerto Rican player Beatriz Rivera.
But the road to the Olympics will mean continuing to recruit players to the sand a little closer to home.
“The problem right now is that not many people know it exists. In Italy it’s pretty popular, it’s becoming more popular in France and some islands, but here in the U.S where the potential is really huge. It’s very big and nobody knows yet,” said world champion player Alessandro Calbucci.
The tournament continues Sunday with the semis and finals beginning at 11 a.m.