HURRICANE Irene failed to dampen Nadia Johnston’s enthusiasm for living in New York.
Not even a bit of water damage to her ground floor apartment in Long Island when the storm hit on the weekend will do that either.
The former West State School student loves her life stateside and why wouldn’t she?
She’s a five-times national beach tennis, yes, beach tennis, champion in her adopted country.
Ranked 243 in the world in women’s doubles and 314 in singles during her “proper” tennis career, Johnston has been playing on the Beach Tennis US professional circuit since 2005 and she wouldn’t swap it for anything.
Johnston, who moved to New York in 2003, said playing beach tennis was certainly a far cry from playing traditional tennis.
“You certainly cannot imagine what happens on the beach happening at Wimbledon or Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne,” she laughed.
“Loud music, girls in bikinis doing their best to pump up the crowd and spectators making so much noise with thunder sticks makes it a very different atmosphere to the traditional game.
“Using tennis racquets is about the only comparison there is.”
But how did Johnston, who reached a career-high ranking of 15 in singles in Australia before a wrist injury ended her career, start playing on the beach?
“Tennis was my way of life and I was gutted when I realised my injury wouldn’t allow me to be competitive at the top anymore,” she said.
“A couple of years after moving to New York to take up a coaching role, a couple of friends took me along to a beach tennis event and I was hooked.
“Not only is it a fun sport, it has also allowed me to play in a professional environment again.”
But is playing beach tennis harder than the traditional game?
“It sure is,” Johnston, who is also ranked 14th in the world, said.
“It’s a lot harder on your legs and the sand can be a real killer at times.”
Does Johnston think the game could catch on in Australia?
“It might do because it’s so different and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
“Just look at what Twenty20 has done to cricket.”
Life’s a beach: What is beach tennis?
Games are played on a regulation beach volleyball court.
Players volley back and forth, hitting a slightly depressurised tennis ball directly over the net without letting it bounce.
Points are scored when players hit the ball outside the lines or let it hit the sand.
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