Alexandre Pereira is serving up a new sporting experience for Gold Coast beachgoers - and he wants to recruit some international stars to help him do it.
Mr Pereira, a Masters of Sports Management student at Bond University, is bringing beach tennis to the Gold Coast.
Beach tennis is a fast-growing offshoot of traditional tennis, sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation and already played professionally in 37 countries across more than 300 tournaments, as part of the ITF Beach Tennis World Tour.
Beach tennis is played with smaller racquets, resembling paddles, on an area the same size as a beach volleyball court, with a net lower than for volleyball but higher than for traditional tennis.
Mr Pereira was inspired to set up beach tennis after being forced into lockdown, alongside the rest of Queensland, during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I made a promise to my wife that I wouldn’t start a business for two years, because I’ve had different businesses overall for more than 15 years. I promised I’d be an employee… but with COVID I had to stay at home for two months, and I couldn’t spend two months just watching Netflix.”
As restrictions started to ease, Mr Pereira began by offering free lessons and one-on-one matches on the beach at Surfers Paradise, while working with Gold Coast City Council, Tennis Australia and Tennis Queensland to obtain the required permits to run beach tennis as a business.
Mr Pereira said beach tennis was easy to learn, and was suitable for all ages.
“The game has many similarities to beach volleyball, with the idea of the ball not bouncing, but it follows mainly the standard tennis rules.
"But the rules make the skills required a little different, as you’re mainly playing at the net, you don’t play the baseline game, you have the forehand and backhand volley, smash, drop shot, and serve. It’s a very fast-paced game, and it’s really easy to learn.”
Mr Pereira intends to run Queensland’s first professional beach tennis operation. Two similar organisations have been operating in Sydney and one in Perth for several years.
But rather than see these organisations as rivals, Mr Pereira has been working with them to promote beach tennis, and collectively they hope to eventually bring some of the sport’s leading players to Australia.
“We’re working together to bring international tournaments to Australia. It doesn’t make sense for the top 10 men and women’s players to come to Australia for one tournament, it’s too expensive.
"So the idea is to work with Tennis Australia and local bodies so we can bring the athletes for three international tournaments, one in Perth, one in Sydney, and one in the Gold Coast.”
Mr Pereira has linked with Bond University’s Transformer entrepreneurship program to further develop his business, with a view to eventually expanding to play beach tennis on the Sunshine Coast, at Byron Bay, and on indoor beach volleyball courts in Brisbane.
He is confident the ITF will back plans to grow beach tennis in Australia.
“Strategically, where they want to go now is Asia and the USA, and they see Australia as a powerhouse. Because we know the size of tennis in Australia, beach tennis has a lot of space to grow.
“When you mix people’s love for the coast, beach life, with tennis, it’s amazing. I see great potential there.”