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CLEARWATER – Among the final four Beach Tennis players in the Men’s and Women’s Singles Finals were a pair of returning singles gold medalists from 2018 and a nationally recognized player and a player who has climbed on to the medal stand quite a few times in 2019.

Then there was Samantha Siegel.

Siegel, from Long Island, New York, was playing at the 2019 Sunshine State Games (SSG) International Beach Games, at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, on Clearwater Beach, in her first Beach Tennis tournament, outside of her local area.

“This is my first travel tournament, said Siegel, a tennis player and coach in Long Island. “I just began playing in June.”

Siegel’s only two losses, in pool play and the championship match, were to the gold medal winner, Angela Bemquerer, a native of Brazll, now living in Miami.  Bemquerer, who won the 2018 SSG International Beach Games gold medal in Women’s Singles, was undefeated in all five of her matches Friday.

Bemquerer, who will also play women’s doubles on Saturday, was impressed with the competition and the beach venue.

“Everyone played awesome,” she said.  The Beach Game is getting better and this is my favorite place to play. In many tournaments, the courts are too close together and in others they are too spread out.  It’s perfect here.”

In the Men’s final, Carlos Rivera defeated Matteo Godio, 9-3, in a game that was closer than the final score. In a back-and-forth game, Rivera admitted he just happened to score “most of the deuce points.” It was Rivera’s serve that denied Godio a second consecutive gold medal.  He credits a “quick toss,” for its success.

“With that quick toss the ball is hard for my opponent to pick up,” Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, now living in Miami, said. “Once I hit it off the quick toss, the ball is coming into the opponent at a really fast pace.”

Godio, standing beside Rivera, nodded in agreement.  The two will compete together as a men’s doubles team on Saturday.

Rivera is one of 240 athletes playing Beach Tennis at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Beach Games, October 12-17, in Qatar.  A total of 98 countries will compete in 14 sports, at the ANOC Beach Games, and 75 athletes will represent the United States.

The Men’s Doubles 40+ gold medal was won by the team of Jose Marin and Carlos Arniella, who were undefeated in five matches.  They defeated Tony Guidicessi and Craig Whiteleather, 7-3, in the championship match.

Six of the seven sports of the 2019 SSG International Beach Games will be in action on Saturday with over 1200 participants competing in the large beach area between the Sheraton Sand Key Hotel and the Gulf of Mexico. The seventh sport, Highland Games competition, will be held on Sunday.

The Fifth Annual Beach Games are a program of the Florida Sports Foundation, the official sports promotion and development organization of the State of Florida, in partnership with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Schedule for Saturday, September 28
Powerlifting, Men 52kg through 82.5 kg, 9:00 a.m. (Inside Hotel in Bay Conference Room)
Ultimate, Coed Team Competition, 9:00 a.m.
USATF Florida Ultra Weight Pentathlon and Under 19 Super Weight Championships, 9:00 a.m.
Beach Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Teams, 9:00 a.m.
Beach Tennis, Men’s & Open & Advanced Doubles – Pool Play, 9:30 a.m.
Cornhole, Team Competition, 11:00 a.m.
Beach Tennis, Men’s & Women’s Open & Advanced Doubles – Main Draw, 2:00 p.m.

Beach Tennis Results
Women’s Open
1. Angela Benquerer, Miami; 2. Samantha Siegel, Long Island, NY; 3. Yvonne Burgos; 4. Yulia Skurikhina

Men’s Open
1. Carlos Rivera, Doral; 2. Matteo Godio, Miami; t3. Ignacio De Elia, Tampa, Jose Manuel Millian, Orlando

Men’s 40+ Doubles
1. Jose Marin, Miami and Carlos Arniella, Guaynabo, PR; 2. Tony Guidicessi and Craig Whiteleather, Clearwater

About the Sunshine State Games
The 40th Sunshine State Games are presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization, and a division of Enterprise Florida, Inc.  The Foundation works in conjunction with a variety of local sports industry partners to present the different competitions.  The Sunshine State Games, an annual amateur sports tradition in Florida, is part of the state’s $57.4 billion sports industry that accounts for 580,000 jobs statewide. #PlayInFlorida