In danger of losing our international beach tennis event

Last year, the Beach Police announced to BTA, Beach Tennis Aruba, that the Aruba Beach Tennis Open, ABTO, in 2018, was the last time the event took place on Eagle Beach, and that it would have to relocate to Bushiri.

BTA did not object. They wrapped up Aruba’s most successful Beach Tennis competition, with 1,400 players, on 38 courts, with at least 4,000 spectators over the weekend, and were hopeful that Bushiri will be ready.

What does ‘ready’ mean? In order to run a beach tennis tournament, the beach at Bushiri would require 40cm of white, sifted sand, over 24,000 square meters, which amounts to about Awg 300.000 in sand alone, and at the moment Barcadera has no stock, thus, Bushiri will probably NOT be ready to receive players and fans in November 2019.

Beach Tennis has been growing on the island. It is a much-loved sport, and as an international event, it is a welcome alternative to music concerts.

The 2018 tournament impressed an international TV producer greatly, and he was coming back in 2019 with a crew to film it; the International Tennis Federation, ITF, was about to grant the Aruba event the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP title.

Things were looking up, and BTA got more excited by the minute, and applied for the 2019 permit. Sport Tourism is good for the island, it has ATA’s blessing, so they waited holding their breath. Will the event be given a permit? Yes? No?

And if yes, where? Eagle Beach?

Apparently, the island’s much-talked-about Beach Policy states that there CANNOT be any more events on the beach.

But how can you host an international Beach Tennis competition off the beach??

In Brazil and in the Netherlands, authorities wrestled with that same conservation issue and found a creative solution by making these beach volleyball and tennis events synonymous with cleanups. Every bottle cap and cigarette butt are picked off the beach before and after, with up to 120 squeaky-clean courts offering sport & entertainment value.

According to BTA, in 2018, they conducted a cleaning before, while and after, and handed the beach back to the Beach Police in better shape than ever. The area between La Quinta to Paradise, that never gets any TLC, was scoured by BTA to pristine condition.

Time is running out. It’s February. No permit on the horizon. BTA asked for a meeting with the MINInfra, I heard it was finally granted. Meanwhile ITF gave the WC title to Italy. The producer is still interested, but needs to have a confirmed timetable. Players are hungry for information.

What’s gonna happen? BTA says it’s go big or die. They will not shrink the event to fit into the Tropicana Beach Tennis Club with just 16 courts.

The saw ABTO grow over the years, and want to continue nurturing its trajectory.    

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February 02, 2019
Rona Coster