SPARTANBURG, S.C.- Tennis is a game known around the world to most, however beach tennis is not. Former Wofford tennis player Brett Johnson is trying to change the mindset of the public as he and his doubles partner Mike Edison continue to dominate the nation of beach tennis. Johnson graduated from Wofford in 2005, where he ended his career playing No. 2 singles. “Brett was a good player for us,” stated current head coach Rod Ray. “He was hard working and worked his way from the middle of the lineup to the top by his senior year. Beach Tennis is a great accomplishment for him.”
Beach tennis is a sport that has combined the game of regular tennis with that of two man beach volleyball. However, a lighter ball is used and each team only has one opportunity to hit the ball over the net each time it crosses into your side of the court. The court is like that of a beach volleyball court, so points are scored by either hitting a winner or your opponent hits into the net or outside of the lines.
Johnson heard of the game beach tennis from his good friend and current doubles partner, Edison. “He was playing a tournament in Miami and was in need of a doubles partner,” said Johnson. “At the time, I was living in Daytona Beach and it sounded like fun so I decided to try it out.” It turned out to be a good decision for the duo as they advanced to the quarterfinals and decided to continue playing together for the remainder of the season. In the end, the team was named the most dedicated team and best new team on tour. “At that point I knew that this was an opportunity for me to make a name for myself in a sport that I think is going to be a great success.”
Beach Tennis USA is somewhat similar to that of the ATP Tour in which competitors travel around the nation playing at different venues in multiple cities. Current Cities that host tournaments include Miami, Long Island(NY), Los Angles, San Diego, Charleston(SC) and Clearwater(Fla.). Although most players travel around the US, beach tennis is a sport known in many other countries including Italy, which is known as the Mecca of beach tennis. Currently, Beach Tennis USA is branching out to other nations as well and has licensees in Bermuda, Tokyo and the Bahamas.
Heading into 2009, the tour is heading into its fifth year in which Johnson thinks will be the biggest and best by Far. “There are a lot of people that compete in all of the tour stops throughout the year,” said Johnson. “Although most of the competitors are from those cities that we are in for that certain tour stop, along with those who consider it as a professions and take it very seriously.” Johnson and his doubles partner are one duo that takes each and every tour stop seriously which in return, has vaulted them to the number one ranked team in the nation on the Beach Tennis USA tour.
For Johnson, reaching that number one ranking has not come easy. “We received the number one ranking by a lot of hard work and motivation to play our best. During our offseason we train very hard in the gym to get stronger because of the toughness of moving in the sand,” noted Johnson. To maintain the number one ranking, a team must stay consistent as the ranking system is based on points meaning, the further you advance in a tournament the more ranking points you receive. “The actual ranking came from our very consistent play throughout the entire season. We won two tournaments and finished no lower than the semi-finals in every tournament of the 2008 season.”
The 2009 season gets underway on March 21 at the Tampa Bay Open in Clearwater, Fla. Heading into the season Johnson and Edison are still making efforts to make this a full time profession and trying to land sponsorships for the 2009 tour. “Not only are we looking for corporate sponsorships but personal sponsorships and partnerships as well. Really anyway that we could use the publicity that we get from doing all of these great events to help companies or anyone in order to receive sponsorships to help us get to our tour stops around the country and outside the US and allowing us to train to the ability that we need in order to continue dominating the Beach USA Tour would be grateful.”
For more information on the Beach USA Tour and to see how Johnson and Edison do, check out www.beachtennisusa.net.