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Sand, surf and serve - all in one

By NANCY MORGAN Tennis
Published July 18, 2007


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Imagine playing tennis where the ball is not allowed to bounce and one serve is permitted per point. Welcome to beach tennis, a combination of beach volleyball and tennis.

Tennis teaching pro Mike Edison, who lives in the St. Petersburg area and teaches tennis at Countryside Country Club, hopes to make a career playing the sport.

"At one time my dream was to be a professional tennis player, but it was too tough on the tour," said Edison, 24. "I think beach tennis is really going to take off in the next couple of years and I hope I can make a living playing the sport."

The three-year-old sport is played on a regulation beach volleyball court that utilizes a net 6 feet, 2 inches high. With a regular tennis racket, the ball is served diagonally across the net - with just one chance to get it in - then only volleys are allowed. Scoring is no-ad in the eight-game pro set match with a seven-point tiebreaker at eight games all. For now, doubles is the only format played.

"I didn't know anything about beach tennis until I met Mike at Countryside," said Steve Culver, 17-year pro at the Clearwater club. "...I kind of like it and have been coaching him since about the time he came here this spring. I believe playing beach tennis has actually improved my own tennis game."

Edison grew up around Washington D.C. and achieved a top 60 junior ranking in the USTA Mid-Atlantic section. Following college play through 2006, which included competing in some professional contests, Edison was offered an opportunity to compete in a beach tennis tournament. When he learned there was prize money, Edison was motivated to compete and finished second in his first experience.

Keys to success include good mobility on the sand, the stamina to stay out in the sun, the ability to hit precise volleys and execute touch.

"With the lower-pressure balls, there's a huge spin potential," Culver said. "We've been working on that, as well as reaction time and footwork, which is complicated by the sand."

This week, Edison has been training hard with Culver for an upcoming Beach Tennis USA tournament in California. Edison's doubles partner, Brett Johnson of Daytona Beach, joined them to train before traveling to the West Coast Championships in Long Beach. The pair are ranked No. 3 among all competitors.

The California event will air on the Tennis Channel. To learn more, go to www.beachtennisusa.net.

NET SHOTS: Last weekend, Countryside Country Club hosted more than 100 competitors in its Summer Adult Designated NTRP. Among the singles winners were Kirsten Willis in women's 3.5 and Brett Apter men's 4.0. Reaching the final round were Susan Hobbs in women's 4.0 and Alex Deeb men's 5.0. In doubles, Hobbs teamed with Turtle Marshall to capture the women's 4.0 and Willis paired with Kelly Wilhite to win the 3.5.

- Seminole Lake's July Spectacular Super Series named singles winners in the girls and boys 14-and-under, 12 and 10 divisions. In the 14s were No. 4 Ognjen Samardzic and Taylor Lederman, in 12 No. 5 Juan Bisono and No. 1 Miranda Talbert and in 10 were No. 2 Nicolous Halverson and No. 3 Maria Shishkina.

- Kevin Manning, in his first season in the men's 50-and-over division, reached the semifinals in the National Men's 50 Indoor Championships in Oregon and quarterfinals in the USTA Hard Court Nationals in California.

COMING UP: Summer Classic Too for juniors begins Saturday at Safety Harbor Spa. Call 724-7729.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756.

[Last modified July 17, 2007, 21:36:01]


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