While pickleball has dominated discussions about fast growing sports across the country, Santa Monica remains the home of a sandier, paddle fueled sport: beach tennis.

Much like pickleball is thriving on paved courts worldwide, beach tennis is staking its claim internationally.

“Beach Tennis is the fastest growing beach sport in the world, played in over 70 countries,” said Carolina Hannes, US national beach tennis champion and founder of Beach Tennis Santa Monica and Torrance. “It is a combination of beach volleyball, tennis and badminton. Even in countries like Brazil beach tennis has become more popular than soccer.”

Players said it’s a natural fit for the City By The Sea.

“Beach tennis is as the name entails, it’s on the beach. Right? So Santa Monica has one of the best beaches in Southern California. So it makes sense that beach tennis will become popular,” said Aurelian Leturgie, a beach tennis player.

Hannes said part of the appeal is the sports ability to combine a workout with some social interaction.

“You’re on the beach. People come and start exercising and burning calories. They meet people and keep up with your old friends. And you know, they have a good time,” she said.

The local company offers classes throughout the week and participants said they enjoy the friendly vibe when beach tennis players gather on the sand in front of Ocean Park beach. Offering a variety of classes from beginner classes to advanced open plays, even hosting toddler classes for four years olds, Haanes’ organization said the sport can cater to anyone, even those who have no history or background with similar sports.

Beach tennis started on the coastal shores of warm climate countries like Italy and Brazil before making its way to SoCal and its coastal cities where local players say it really epitomizes the beach culture of Santa Monica.

The sport has obvious differences to its court based cousin. The ball cannot bounce or hit the sand, the ball itself is softer than a traditional ball and the smaller, lighter racket doesn’t use strings. Players said the combined effect is a gentler game.

“I’ve always loved racquet sports, I now do beach tennis more than regular tennis, it’s so much better for your joints. You don’t get hurt and you’re on the beach,” said Leturgie.

Another racket sport lover, Sherry Soong said beach tennis helped her recover from an injury.

“After rupturing my Achilles, I saw beach tennis and then really got interested in it,” she said. “Beach tennis was perfect for me to be exercising my Achilles on the sand while I can still play a racquet sport.”

As fun as the sport already is, most new players acknowledge that their new found addiction to coming to the beach to play is drawn by the positive atmosphere the sport encompasses.

“It’s a friendly sport. Like people get excited by this music playing. There’s like really cool events and culture. It’s competitive, but it’s not too crazy competitive. So it’s like the perfect sports meets lifestyle” Aurelian said.

Hannes said it’s really an activity for any age.

“Beach tennis … anyone can play, young, old, athletic, if you’ve never done a sport, this can be the perfect sport for you. So come out, try it.

For more information visit https://www.beachtennissantamonica.com/.

Arabella Joaquin, SMDP Intern