Paddle, beach tennis gain popularity in Rio

World Today

While the winter has kept North America in the cold, across South America the sun has been heating things up. In Rio, many Brazilians spend their summer holiday season on the beach, where they might also get a workout in playing a favorite sport. Like paddle tennis, which is the most popular beach sport in the country.

CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs reported this story from Brazil.

On the sandy beaches of Rio, the worldwide vogue for paddle tennis, also known as frescobol, started in the 1940s.

Paddle, beach tennis gain popularity in Rio

While the winter has kept North America in the cold, across South America the sun is heating things up. In Rio, many Brazilians are spending their summer holiday season on the beach, doing more than perfecting their tans. Paddle tennis the most popular beach sport in the country. CCTV America's Stephen Gibbs reported this story from Brazil.

The racquet was made of wood to make it more resistant to seawater than the traditional tennis equivalent. The game is all about keeping the ball in play, not defeating your opponent.

“It’s a great work out. Besides the sand resistance, you work out the whole body, upper and lower limbs, not to mention the mind,” a frescoball player, who did not give their name, said. “We came here to relax a little bit, and this is a good way to relieve stress.”

While there are very few rules in the game, the authorities imposed one after complaints from some beachgoers — games are now only permitted after 5 p.m.

One of the most attractive attributes of frescoball is that it is almost entirely non-competitive. But it’s a different story for another sandy sport: beach tennis.

While beach tennis was a relatively recent arrival to Brazil, beach tennis enthusiast Gian Luca Padovan claimed he introduced the sport to the country about a decade ago. At the time, he found Brazilians to be naturals at the sport.

“The Brazilian talent is undeniable in any sport. Here the only challenge is that people need to learn how to play tactically, as their traditional philosophy is that it’s more important to play beautifully,” Padovan said. “My hopes are high for the development of the game here, because Brazilians have a real ability to adapt to new sports, and always perform well on the beach.”

He said beach tennis is the perfect mix of other racquet sports, with one crucial twist: the ball doesn’t bounce.

There is a campaign to make beach tennis an Olympic sport, but if it were to pass it wouldn’t be in time for the 2016 games to be held in Rio. However, there will be plenty of demonstration games to remind visitors that these beaches are some of the biggest playing fields in the world.