Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CYPRESS LAKE COUNTRY CLUB HOSTS JARDAS MEMORIAL TENNIS EVENT


USMC Corporal Thomas "Tommy" Jardas
1993 - 2016
Note: You can access an audio/visual representation of the first five paragraphs of this blog post by clicking this linkYour device volume should be up to view the video.  

Do you savor special memories and competing sensations as
Photo courtesy of Fox News
you drive past your old high school? Or maybe the high school where your children walked the halls, frolicked on the field, mingled with other teenagers, they too, teaming with potential?

Now, can you imagine? You’re a mom, or Dad. You’re getting ready for work and you turn on the Today Show. You’re not totally paying attention, but your antennae always go up when there’s a story on the military. Of course; your 22-year-old son is a Marine stationed thousands of miles away.

Your preparations for work slow down, become trance-like,
Beth Haely & Tommy Jardas-
Photo courtesy of Brian Johnson 
as the sensation of doom drapes over you like a heavy shroud, slowly smothering you, before realization crashes into you, snatching your very breath away. A helicopter crash? Marines? Hawaii? You hit the ground in hysterics, knowing in your heart of hearts that that helicopter, is THE helicopter, the one your son maintained and risked his life on daily.

Can you imagine the next 11 hours, as you futilely seek
Sikorsky CH 53E Super Stallion
confirmation of what you already know deep down in your bone marrow? Was my son on the chopper that day? God, let it not be so! And then finally: “The Knock on the Door” that all parents, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters dread when their loved ones serve. Yes, my son was on that bird that flies no more. One phase of torture ends and bleeds into another.

The rescue mission is underway. Six days, six long days and endless nights the mission sustains your limbo. Hope and
Photo courtesy of Stacy Henson- News-Press 
Despair compete for dominance. Hope dies hard, but die it does as the declaration of what you already knew in your heart of hearts is made: The tragic training mission had ended in disaster. And yet, somehow, life goes on…

How might you feel, as a parent, sibling, friend, driving past
Tommy, Beth, & Haely
the high school your loved one attended? Driving past Cypress Lake High School has brought me mixed emotions for years, but those sensations will be even more intense for me now. You see, I only recently found out that USMC Corporal Tommy Jardas, a graduate of Cypress Lake High was killed while on active duty in the USMC this past January. Tommy was a promising 22-year-old at the time. The News-Press provided excellent coverage of Tommy’s return home.

Although moved by all untimely deaths that penetrate my consciousness, finding out that Tommy’s potential would
T. A. & Con back in the day 
never be realized hit close to home. Tommy attended Cypress Lake High School at a time when I was a frequent visitor there as a surrogate dad. Tommy’s sister Haely Jardas (now the reigning Ms. Washington, DC) and Connor Zerilla (my surrogate son) were close friends. Connor and Tommy shared a birth date as well as mascot duties at Cypress Lake High…There is challenge, and then there is the challenge of tragedy.

As members of our tennis community are rallying around
Screen shot of GoFundMe page for Tommy's fund
initiated by Gina Cuoco-Barfield
Steph and me with our challenge (so minor in comparison), friends of the Haely-Jardas family have been rallying around Beth Haely (Tommy's mom); her FiancĂ©, Brian Johnson; and Tommy's sister Haely. The first public demonstration of the support they received was in the form of a GoFundMe effort initiated by Beth’s cousin Gina A. Cuoco-Barfield to build a memorial in Tommy’s name at Cypress Lake High School (lots of good info available at the GoFundMe website).

The original concept of the memorial project has grown; in fact, tripled in size. Initially consisting of a flagpole and
Cypress Lake High Memorial in Progress-
Photo courtesy of Beth Haely's Facebook page
plaque, support has been so strong, that the memorial currently includes, in Beth’s words: “over 500 sq ft of pavers with lighting 24/7/365; two 8' pergolas with 2 black powder coated steel benches with 2 royal palms and bushes boarder the area. The Black Granite Marker is over 7' and will stand in the middle.” Wow (Click here for progress)! The dedication of the memorial will be January 14, 2017 at noon. It’s already on my calendar.

The completion of that funding effort is drawing nigh, but
Flyer courtesy of Brian Johnson
there is a final push that directly involves our tennis community. Cypress Lake Country Club will be hosting the Corporal Tommy Jardas Memorial Tennis Social on Sunday, December 11, 2016, from 9:30 am - 12:00 pm. If you’ve been in this community a while, you know that they know how to do events at Cypress Lake.

The event is primarily a Cypress Lake member social, but guests and their checkbooks are welcome. There will be round robin tennis, racquet demos, silent auction, clinics, and a 50/50 raffle to make the giving fun. Court Sponsorships are still available, and you can always give above the suggested donation of $25 if you so desire. For general questions on the event, please contact Cypress Lake Country Club at 239-481-1333. If you have questions about items for the Silent Auction, please contact Beth Haely at 239-271-0009 or bhaely@yahoo.com

Wait! I almost forgot the most fun thing- outside of the tennis of course- Love Boat Homemade Ice Cream will be on hand to honor Tommy, who worked there during his high school years. You might want to head over to the event just for the ice cream- it’s that good!

In any event, if you aren’t a Cypress Lake member, and don’t
The late Charles "Van" Middlesworth with
Alex Hermeto (right) at an FGCU Eagles match
know Alex Hermeto, Cypress Lake’s new Director of Tennis, from Pro League, this may be as good an opportunity as any to meet one of the area's most decorated tennis professionals. And, former Head Pro Terry See is always happy to share some smiles and his “firm-ish” handshake with everyone. Hope to see you there! Game, set, match...T. A.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

FGCU TIPS BALANCE OF POWER IN 2016 NAPLES-FORT MYERS CHALLENGE

Note: Click here for additional photos of the Challenge experience.

Paula Scheb is the hostess with the mostess
Paula Scheb, Director of Tennis at Bonita Bay Club, her staff, and the Bonita Bay management team are without doubt on the forefront of tennis and tennis event technology. That technological leadership was
A sample of Becky Salaun's drone technology photos
evident 
from the LED lighting by Techlight on several courts, the buzzing drone photography of Becky Salaun, Director of Communications/IT, to the live scoring provided by PlaySight.
Maybe I’m easily wowed, but when I traverse the grounds of an event and
Duke checking out the scoreboard technology
can tell from the live scoreboards posted in various locations what’s happening, I’m giving the event a thumbs up before I see a single point. Of course, you still need old-fashioned eyes to assist with some of that, and Bonita Bay always has a plethora of easily identified volunteers to help ensure that the event runs like a stream-polished stone…uh, that’s smooooth.

There’s no doubt that Bonita Bay Club is one of the premier tennis
One of the fantastic volunteers doing her thing
facilities in Southwest Florida, and the ongoing beautification of that facility is as inspiring as it gets in our area. But the reason that hundreds of spectators turned out for the 36th Naples-Fort Myers Challenge
The fans were the big winners
is because of the tennis. The 21 matches in such a wide variety of age groups, from Men’s and Women’s Open Singles and Doubles to Men’s 65 Doubles, offer something for every age group and level of player to enjoy.



One of the stories of the 2016
Courtney & CJ enjoying it
Challenge that demands to be told is the impact the FGCU Eagles had on the outcome. Although a number of FGCU alums took part in the event, it was the grit of current Eagles, both men and women, that tipped the balance of power in the Challenge. Five of the eight Fort Myers victories in the 4pm session came from the racquets of current FGCU players and coaches.

Men’s Coach C. J. Weber and Women’s Coach Courtney Vernon made quick work of their opponents with
Maya Ornberg leans into it
a 6-2, 6-1 victory in Mixed Open Doubles. In Women’s Open Doubles, junior Juliana Curtis and sophomore Julia Ascua posted a straight-set, but hard-fought win: 7-5, 6-2. Sophomore Javier Fernandez delivered another FGCU blow for Fort Myers, downing Tye Myers 6-4, 6-4
Javier Fernandez rips one
in a Men’s Open Singles contest. Maja Ornberg, an FGCU freshman, bounced back from a bagel in the second set, after taking the first 6-2, to claim the match tiebreak, 10-4 in Women’s Open Singles, the only women’s singles match of the event. The fifth and final win for the FGCU contingent…well, I’m gonna save that one for later.

The bottom line for those in attendance was that the 2016 Challenge offered as much drama as you will ever see in the challenge. After Naples
Juliana Curtis and Julia Ascua notch one for Fort Myers
jumped out to a 7 – 2 lead during the 2pm session, one might have thought that it was just another year for Naples to romp. After all, they’ve done so a number of times over the years, winning 31 of the previous 35 Challenges. But the Naples-Fort Myers Challenge has actually become a challenge the past few years, and Fort Myers fought on.

As the 4pm matches progressed, and the wins
Mike Curran & Pete Minarich- Challenge Captains
began to fall in the Fort Myers column, the excitement and anticipation were ratcheted up a few notches. It showed on the faces of both the Naples (Pete Minarich) and Fort Myers (Mike Curran) captains. Nearing the end of the 
4pm session, Fort Myers had claimed seven of the eight completed matches and led the Challenge 9 – 8 with one match still being contested. A win for Naples in that match would mean a  tied score going into the three 6pm marquee matches. 

And what a match that one was! I’ve been searching my memory
Championship Court view 
for a men’s doubles match that equals the quality of play, level of intensity, and sheer dramatic content as the match that pushed Fort Myers into the lead in the 2016 Naples-Fort Myers Challenge. As of this writing, I can’t think of a single one, at any level, that compares.

It was undoubtedly the match of the event, and it pitted FGCU’s
Oliver Landert delivers heat with Andres Alfonso at net
Oliver Landert and Andres Alfonso against Lucas Regas and Jose Luis Soto. With this much talent on the court, it should have been no surprise to anyone that this match was as scintillating as it was. In the Naples corner was Regas, formerly an
Lucas Regas & Jose Soto ready Naples Challenge defense
internationally ranked doubles player, who was once among the top 100 players in Spain. His partner Soto is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama Huntsville, where he played No.1 Singles and finished his career by winning 26 consecutive dual matches. Hardly chopped liver, eh?

In the Fort Myers corner, we had Landert, a Naples native who is
My shoulder would be in pain. No sweat for Andres
a junior at FGCU, and who posted 31 total wins for the Eagles during their 2015-16 campaign. His partner, Andres Alfonso, is a senior at FGCU who plays the top spot in singles and doubles, and who posted 34 wins for the Eagles last year. He’s as good an all-around player as the Eagles have on the roster.

Now, a lot of doubles matches have deteriorated (in my opinion) into singles rallies crosscourt from the baseline with the net
Lucas Regas blisters a backhand while
Jose Soto prepares to poach
person making an actual move to cut a ball off every election year or so. Okay, maybe it isn’t quite that bad, but…Anyway, this match, this incredible momentum-swinging match, was everything but the hit-the-ball crosscourt-until-somebody-makes-an-error kind.

Serve-volley, groundies ripped down the middle, down the line,
One of Andres' crazy gets
incessant poaching, angled flicks of the wrist, lob-overhead sequences, mad sprints for deft dropshots…Man! This match had every tennis shot and doubles strategy on display. Yes, there were even some of those crosscourt rallies, but they didn’t last long, and were not the norm in this match.

In addition to the dynamic display of superb shot-making, the
Jose Luis Soto prepares for backhand return
match went to three tiebreaks, and the outcome hung suspensefully in the balance right down to the final point! To give you some idea of how intense and hard-fought the match was, it was one of the 4pm matches, and I believe two of the scheduled
How about this for courtside tech!
6pm matches were just about wrapping up when they finished the almost-three-hour slugfest. How does 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 10-8 grab you? Well, it surely grabbed just about every spectator who remained on the premises.

This is what tennis competition is all about. Fort Myers, after
Fort Myers climbing back into contention
trailing 7-2 at the end of the 2pm session, had moved ahead 10-8 after the 4pm round, and only needed one more win from the remaining three matches to claim their second victory in four years. While some may want to point to the historical Naples domination (the challenge now stands at 31-5 in their favor), Naples Captain Pete
Diane Geater & Pete Minarich exchange greetings
Minarich sees it another way: “I prefer to frame it as we’ve split the last 4 years at 2-2. The Challenge has never been better than when Paula began hosting at Bonita Bay and Mike became Ft. Myers’ captain. The event has come down to a tiebreaker or two for the past 4 years and it’s the real deal- a true battle where every match really counts!”

Pete was like a kid in a candy store this past Saturday, and you
won’t see Mike much more jubilant than he was that night, even
Mike Curran & Dominique Levin close out
2016 Challenge with a win- Photo courtesy of Tara Curran
before he and Bonita Bay Head Pro Dominique Levin won the final match of the event in straight sets. I know Paula, her staff, and the sponsors (Ritzman Tennis Courts, Yonex, Techlight, PlaySight, Five County Insurance, and Bonita Bay Club) were pretty pleased with the outcome of the 36th Naples-Fort Myers Challenge. If you were there, I’m sure you were too. See you at next year's Challenge! Game, set, match...

T. A. & Steph



Monday, October 3, 2016

LCWTL 2015-16 SENIOR DIVISION WRAP UP - 2016-17 PREVIEW

The Lee County Women's Tennis League (LCWTL) has 15 divisions offering anyone who wants to play fun, competitive tennis the opportunity to do so. Eight of the divisions are adult (18+) rated without additional age restrictions, and seven of the divisions are for senior players (50+). 

Over 210 teams (110 rated, 101 senior) played in the LCWTL during the 2015-16 league season, and although I am not sure about overlap, I imagine that over 2000 women played in the LCWTL last season. As the numbers grow and players' ratings move up and down, the challenge remains to organize players into divisions that create the fairest and most enhancing competitive environment for all players. 

In efforts to provide as many competitive opportunities as possible for its members, the League provided imbalanced schedules in some divisions. Such schedules resulted in some teams played more matches than others, some teams playing each other more than other teams, etc. As a result and in efforts to be fair, League Champions were determined by the percentage of available points won, rather than total number of points won. I'll include both and more in most instances below.

LCWTL Senior Teams

Bronze Division (3.0-)
Plantation's 2015-16 2nd-place Bronze Team
Captained by Ro DeMarie & Barbara Schlager
In the 16-team Bronze Division, Paseo (290, 74.3%) and Plantation (283, 72.5%) were clearly the cream of the crop,  as second-place Plantation was 26 points ahead of The Landings (257, 65.8%), the third-place finisher at season’s end. Paseo finished the season with five sweeps to Plantation’s three, and took at least three of four courts 11 of 15 times, while Plantation took at least three courts 10 times. Yes, the two teams were evenly matched, splitting the four courts and 26 points evenly in their head-to-head match-up.

Going into the final match of the season the title was Plantation’s to win or lose, they were leading Paseo by four points when they took the court against fifth-place finisher Cross Creek Estates in the season’s last battle. Paseo went up against Del Tura (which finished 11th in the league) in their last match, and I’m pretty sure that both Paseo and Plantation knew where they stood going into to their final matches.

Paseo took care of business, sweeping all four of their courts against Del Tura, while Plantation could only muster wins on Courts 1 and 2 against Cross Creek. That was no surprise, since Cross creek actually took three courts from Paseo in an earlier matchup, and only four teams (including Plantation’s 15-11 win in the final match) had outscored Cross Creek in head-to-head team matches.

In the end, Plantation would have had to sweep all four courts from Cross Creek to retain the top position, and that is something no team in the Division had managed to do all season. Third-place Landings was one of the four teams to best Cross Creek in a dual match, taking three of the four courts played. 


Paseo will be moving up in 2016-17, but Plantation, The Landings, and the other two teams among the top-five in the Division, Breckenridge and Cross Creek Estates, will be back to compete for Bronze supremacy. The number of teams in the Division will remain the same this coming season.

Nickel Division (3.0)

Members of Herons Glen 2015-16 2nd-place Nickel Team
Captained by Judy Begin & Dee Evans
The competition at the top of the Nickel Division was almost as tight as it was in Bronze, but the upper echelon was clear. Pelican Sound (425, 74.3%), Herons Glen (417, 72.9%) and Legends (415, 72.5%) distanced themselves from the other competitors in the Nickel Division, as fourth-place Judd Park finished 38 points third-place Legends. All three of the top teams finished the season emphatically, sweeping all four courts in their final matches.

Despite finishing second, Herons Glen can boast of a pair of wins against Division Champs Pelican Sound, both of which were sweeps. In all fairness, the first win was in the first match of the season when Pelican Sound had to forfeit two courts, something they did in the second match of the season as well. In fact, Pelican Sound forfeited five of 12 courts in the first three matches…and still won the Division. Pretty impressive.

That said, Herons Glen took on Pelican Sound in mid-season as well, and still took all four courts. It appears that Herons Glen would have run away with the Division if it weren’t for the fact that they didn’t like to play away matches against teams whose names begin with “L.” Herons Glen lost (finished with fewer points than an opponent) just three matches all season and those were to Landings, Lexington and Legends. In rematches at Herons Glen, they took three of four courts from both Landings and Lexington. There was no Legends rematch.

Third-place Legends had a tough stretch a little more than a third of the way through the season, when they lost three of four courts in three of the four matches they played. However, they also had the best streak of any team in the Division, sweeping six matches in a row in weeks 13 through 18. 



The Nickel Division promises to be even tougher this coming season given the additional seven teams that have been added to the fray. All five teams among last season's top-five will be returning to defend or enhance their positions, although are likely to be comprised of different players.

Copper Division (3.5-)

Cape Coral Racquet Club's 2015-16 Copper Division Champion
Captained by Liz Lashley & Jean Bersch
Cape Coral Racquet Club’s (CCRC) Copper team (370) was one of the most dominant teams in all of the LCWTL. CCRC swept 11 of the 16 team matches they played, won three of four courts in four of the other five matches, and lost only to second-place finisher Legends. CCRC posted the highest available points winning percentage (88.9%) of any team in the entire LCWTL!

Despite finishing 21 points behind CCRC, Legends (349) was a dominant team as well, losing not a single outing, posting six sweeps of their own, and taking three of four courts in nine of the other 10 team matches played. In the one match with Del Tura in which they split the four courts, they still won the match with 15 points to 11. If win-loss record was the determining factor, Legends would have been the League champion with a 16-0 record, as opposed to CCRC's 15-1. Their percentage of available points won 
(83.8%), however, fell short of CCRC by more than five percentage points. 

Beachview (268, 64.4%) was a distant third in the standings, edging Breckenridge for that position by six points. When Beachview and Breckenridge met on the courts, Beachview took three of the four courts, which suggests that their order in the standings was correct.



In light of their success, both captains (Liz Lashley and Jean Bersch) will be moving up to the Silver Division this coming season and CCRC will no longer field a Copper team. The Legends will still be vying for division dominance, although under new leadership, and Breckenridge and Beachview will be as well. Rather than 16 teams, the Copper Division will fall to 12 teams 2016-17.

Silver Division (3.5)
The Silver Division proved to be one of the more hotly
Members of Fort Myers Racquet Club 2015-15
Silver Championship team captained by
Ginger Rasmussen & Martha Hammer
contested senior divisions. A mere 15 points separated the top five teams at season’s end, and that meant that the last team match of the season for each of those five teams was critical to the final standings. Talk about pressure!

The five teams involved included Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC- 299, 71.8%), Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC- 290, 69.7%), Legends (289, 69.4%), Del Tura (285, 68.5%), and The Landings (284, 68.2%). FMRC had a five-point lead over The Landings going into the final match, Legends was nine behind Landings and one ahead of CCRC, and Del Tura trailed CCRC by three points to round out the top five going into that final week.

The eventual top-four finishers managed to put winning numbers on the scoreboard, with CCRC, Legends, and Del Tura taking three of four courts in their final matches. Although FMRC split their final match against Gulf Harbour Sterling Silver (7th place), they still posted 15 points. The Landings could only take Court 4 against second-place CCRC in their last match, scoring just five points and donating 21 to the CCRC cause.

Legends had the good fortune of playing 16th-place finishers Rutenberg Racqueteers in their final match and notched 19 important points. The one court Legends lost in a match tiebreak was the difference between second and third place. Del Tura, the fourth-place finisher proved to be a tough squad all season with the exception of a couple of tough and unusual losses.

During the season, Del Tura took three of four courts from CCRC and split the four courts with FMRC and Landings (despite notching only 12 points in both splits). Without a full team, they were swept by Legends in Week 13. Landings played almost all of the other top-five teams even, splitting the four courts with all but CCRC, which took three of the four courts in that final match.



T. A. with captains of FMRC Silver Dragons
and other players from Heritage Cove
The Silver Division will expand from 17 to 21 teams in 2016-17, so the heated competition we witnessed last season should be ratcheted up this coming season. Defending their title will take considerable work, but I know Ginger and Martha will be working hard to make it happen. 

Cobalt Division (4.0-)
In one of the unbalanced divisions where some teams played one match more than other teams, Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC) emerged as the Division Winner by winning 72.2% of the points available in the 18 matches they played. Landings finished in second place claiming 63.1% of the available points in the 17 matches they played, and Cypress Lake finished third with a 60.4% point-tally.

In this particular division, because of the imbalance in number of matches played and strength of opponents played, it bears mentioning that FMRC finished fourth with 57.2% and Forest was listed as fifth with 56.5%. It bears mentioning because when I examined the matches that the teams had played, it turned out that some teams had played tougher schedules than others.

It turns out that CCRC, Cypress Lake and FMRC had played six matches against the other four teams that finished in the top-five, while The Landings and The Forest had played just five matches against the other top-five teams. Given the schedule disparity, I was curious to see how the teams would line up if we looked at their point acquisition percentage just amongst the teams among the top five.

CCRC still emerged atop the standings with 66% of the available points. However, The Forest leapfrogged into second place, grabbing 56% of available points against the other top teams in the Division. Cypress remained third with 51.2%, with The Landings and FMRC closing out the top five at 40% and 35.9% respectively.

This division turned out to be one of the most interesting division to review because of the imbalanced scheduling. The Division will move from 13 teams to 11 in 2016-17, so all things should be equal. As I wrapped up the analysis of this division, it occurred to me that although the LCWTL does a far better job than I ever could with scheduling so many clubs, teams, matches and players, I couldn't help thinking that a "strength of schedule" factor might be included in determining division standings when all is not equal. Just a thought…

Gold Division (4.0)
Verandah (353, 71.4%) lost three team matches against teams that were among the top seven finishers. They took three of four courts from Plantation, the second place finisher early in the season, and then lost three of four to Plantation late in the season.

Plantation (336, 68%) split with Lexington, but picked up 12 points to Lexington’s 14; In Week 8, they were swept by Rutenberg, a team that finished 8th; two weeks later Legends took the top two courts and Plantation posted 11 points that week. They finished strong in their last six matches, sweeping three of them and taking three of four courts in the others.

Pelican Landing (327, 66.1%) closed in third place, and had good performances most weeks with a blip on the scoring radar every few weeks. Early in the season (Week 2) they dropped three of four courts to fourth-place finisher FMRC, four matches later, they only took 11 points from CCRC (9th), five matches later Plantation took three of four courts from them, and four matches later they lost three of four courts to division-winning Verandah.

FMRC started out like gangbusters and built a large lead over the first eight weeks of the season, before a key injury changed the dynamics of the team and effectively derailed their championship chances. In the end this was a division of near parity at the top with the steadier performers taking the honors.



The Gold Division will move from an imbalanced schedule with 14 teams to a balanced schedule with 17 teams. each team with play every other team once, so strength of schedule won't be an issue this coming season as it may have been last season. All of the top teams return to battle for Gold in 2016-17.

Platinum Division (4.5)
Division Winner Cypress Lake (450, 82.4%) lost to Paseo in Week 4, getting 11 points after splitting courts, and got another 11 points in a split with Park Meadow W in the final match of the season. Those were the only two times Cypress Lake came up on the short end in team matches in a 21-match season, where the eight teams played each other three times. 



Cypress  split courts one other time, again against Park Meadow W, but notched a 15 - 11 win in that match. They also posted 10 sweeps in their 21 matches, and were 25 percentage points ahead of their nearest competitors in available points won. In a nutshell, Cypress Lake’s Platinum performance against a quality field was simply spectacular.
Milly Beck & Diane Geater of Park Meadow
Paseo (315, 57.6%), the second place team that finished more than 100 points behind the Division Winner finished ahead of two Park Meadow teams that were neck and neck for the third spot in the Platinum hierarchy. Park Meadow Aces (PMA- 290, 53.1%) finished just three points ahead of Park Meadow W (PMW- 287, 52.5%) but dominated PMW in head-to-head play. In the three team matches they played, PMA took nine of the 12 individual courts, outscoring PMW 62-16. 

The Platinum Division will fall to seven teams this coming season, as Sundial will no longer compete in this highest level of senior play in the LCWTL.

Phew! That wraps up my wrap up of the senior divisions. If you aren't already dizzy and care to see what transpired in the rated divisions, click here or return to the list of blog posts. 

LCWTL 2015-16 RATED DIVISION WRAP UP - 2016-17 PREVIEW

The Lee County Women's Tennis League (LCWTL) has 15 divisions offering anyone who wants to play fun, competitive tennis the opportunity to do so. Eight of the divisions are adult (18+) rated without additional age restrictions, and seven of the divisions are for senior players (50+). 

Over 210 teams (110 rated, 101 senior) played in the LCWTL during the 2015-16 league season, and although I am not sure about overlap, I imagine that over 2000 women played in the LCWTL last season. As the numbers grow and players' ratings move up and down, the challenge remains to organize players into divisions that create the fairest and most enhancing competitive environment for all players. 

In efforts to provide as many competitive opportunities as possible for its members, the League provided imbalanced schedules in some divisions. Such schedules resulted in some teams played more matches than others, some teams playing each other more than other teams, etc. As a result and in efforts to be fair, League Champions were determined by the percentage of available points won, rather than total number of points won. I'll include both and more in most instances below.
LCWTL Rated Divisions

Dynamo Division (4.5)
Captain Wendy Hechler, Sharon Schneider & Maria Coleman
of Paseo Poachers 2015-16 Dynamo Champs
Division Winners Paseo Poachers (PP- 341, 72.8%), were very strong at the top of their lineup, losing four times at first position and three times on Court 2. That means they were 29-7 for an 80.5% win-rate at the top two positions. On Court 3 alone, they lost nine of 18 (50%) matches. However, the strength at the top and a good showing on Court 4 (13-5, 72.2%) were too much for the other teams in the Division to overcome.

Cypress Lake TuTus (CLTT- 287, 61.3%) took the second spot
Candy Hilliker and Carla Murray, members of
Cypress Lake Dynamo teams
in the LCWTL’s highest level division, jumping out to an early lead with two sweeps and were just six points off the lead held by PP after the first six weeks of the season. However, although they were also relatively strong at the top, CLTT couldn’t keep pace with PP’s top two courts. CLTT’s top two courts went 12-6 (66.7%) and 10-8 (55.6%) respectively. 


Jan Wheeler & Dottie Nurrenbern of Park Meadow Dynamos
Park Meadow Passing Shots (PMPS) claimed the third-place position with 250 points and a 53.4% win percentage of available points. They took care of business against all but the other three teams in the top four spots the first two times around. Against PP, CLTT and CCRC (4th with 231 points, 49.3%), PMPS went 5-19 (20.8%) in the 24 individual matches played against those three teams. But there was no quit in that bunch and they went 7-5 (58.3%) against the same teams in the final four matches of the season to edge CCRC for the third spot. 

Gulf Harbour will be entering the quest for Dynamo dominance in 2016-17 after taking a hiatus last season. That will bring the Division up to eight teams from seven and bring the matches up from 18 to 21. The battle begins on October 18.

4.0 Division 
Gulf Harbour 2015-16 4.0 Champions
When a team sweeps more than 50% of its matches and finishes more than 70 points ahead of the Division’s second-place team, you would think it’s safe to say that it was dominant. Such was Gulf Harbour’s 4.0 team last season. Gulf Harbour’s 4.0 ladies earned 422 points and took 77.2% of the available points from the 21 matches they played. They went 17-4 in team matches, swept 11 of 21 team matches, and won 66 of 82 individual matches. Phew! What a season!

But they were not invincible. Landings 4Love (350, 64.1%)
Members of 2015-16 Landings 4Love
2nd-place 4.0 Team
may have finished second in the Division, but Landings 4Love took three of four courts from Gulf Harbour both time the teams played. Showing that GH’s ladies were definitely human, sixth-place FMRC swept the champs the one time those two teams played.  Hmmm, dominant? We'll take a look in a moment.


The battle for third was obviously close, since Bonita Bay Club and Cape Coral Yacht Club (CCYC) tied for third with 315 points and 60.5% of the available points. If we look at points won in individual team matches CCYC lost just five times in 20 team matches, and split the four courts in two of those matches. Interestingly enough, CCYC did not lose to any of the teams ranked above them in the standings.  

The above results made we want to take a deeper look at this division, because as it was with the Senior Cobalt Division and a few others, the imbalanced schedule made it difficult to understand which team really was the strongest. Although second-place L4L beat Division Champs Gulf Harbour twice, they had just one win in four tries against the other three teams in the top five. 

While CCYC finished tied for third with BB, they suffered no losses to the other top-five teams, going 5-0 against them, including two victories over BB and one win over the other three teams. BB actually lost four of the five matches played against the other top-five teams, beating only L4L in their one matchup. Fifth-place CCRC posted wins against L4L and BB but struggled against GH and CCYC. 

Making things even more interesting was the fact that sixth-place FMRC had wins against four of the top five teams, failing to post a victory only against CCRC in their one meeting. FMRC won a match and lost a match against both CCYC and BB, and won their only matchups against GH and L4L. On the other hand, FMRC lost both matches against Heritage Palms, a team that finished 12th of 15 teams, and lost each of their matches against the two teams that finished 14th and 15th. Geez! Which team is the best in this division?

If we examine the winning percentages only against the top six teams, CCYC was 100%; GH, L4L, and FMRC were 50%; CCRC posted 33%; and BB won 20% of its matches against the top teams. As I looked at wins and losses, I noted that Paseo, the seventh-place finisher, had posted wins against the top teams as well, so I included them in the subsequent analysis. 

If we look at total head-to-head matchups, CCYC comes out on top with a win-loss record of 7-2, which is a 78% winning percentage. CCYC scored more points than the other teams that finished among the top seven teams seven of the nine times they played such a team. No other team was close to that head-to-head winning percentage. 

GH (4-4), L4L (4-4) were next closest with 50% win rates, FMRC (4-4-1) came in at 44%, CCRC (3-5) was next with a win percentage of 38%, while Paseo (3-4-2) and BB (3-5-1) closed out the top seven with 33% match-winning percentages. You may have noted that FMRC won and lost as many matches as GH & L4L, but the additional match (a tie) lowered their win percentage.

Given that the LCWTL chose to determine Division Winners by percentage of available points won,  I also took a look at this metric as well only among the top seven teams. CCYC (140/234) emerged with the best percentage here as well, claiming 59.8% of the points available in the nine matches they played amongst this group. 

GH (123/208) took second best on this measure, taking 59.1% of the available points in the eight matches against the other members of the top seven. FMRC (130/234) posted the next best percentage with 55.6%). L4L (109/208, 52.4%), Paseo (107/234, 45.7%), BB (91/234, 38.9%), and CCRC (80/208, 38.5%) rounded out the top seven when we looked at available points won. 

But why stop there? I’m obviously going overboard with this, so let’s look at one more measure. Each team match is comprised of four individual matches, so I looked at how each fared against the other top teams in terms of percentage of individual matches won (percentages are rounded up). GH posted the strongest number here, winning 19 of 32 matches for 59%. CCYC and FMRC were tied for second on this measure winning 20 of 36 matches for 56%. L4L led the rest of the group on this metric, winning 17 of 32 matches for 53%. CCYC (20/36, 50%), Paseo (17/36, 47%), CCRC (13/32, 41%), and BB (14/36, 39%) completed the order. 

By now you are probably thoroughly confused, and I wouldn't blame you. However, CCYC was first on all but one measure and no worse than second. GH was second on most measures and first on the only measure where CCYC wasn't. By my analysis, the top five teams in the Division, in order, would be CCYC, GH, FMRC, L4L, and Paseo.  

This coming season's schedule is apparently based upon the results of last season, and I can't wait to see how things work out.  Gulf Harbour, Pelican Preserve, Fiddlesticks, and Beachview are out of the mix in 2016-17, but Heron's Glen and Sundial have joined the fray, so the Division count is 13 teams. The top seven remaining teams from last season will play 18 matches, and the other six teams will play 17 matches. October 20 is the first match for the 4.0 ladies.

4.0- Division
Members of Fort Myers Racquet Club's
2015-16 4.0-Minus Championship team
Again, the imbalanced schedule influenced the standings in this division, although in this case closer analysis only serves to show how dominant the Division Winner truly was. Using the percentage of available points FMRC garnered (70%), as well as number of total points won (346), FMRC was a pretty clear winner. Verandah finished second in percentage (65.9%) and total points (326). Del Tura took third place with 64.1% and 317 points. 

Once again, though, there was a significant difference between the strength of schedule Verandah played and those played by the other teams among the top five finishers. Verandah only played four teams that finished among the top five, while the other four teams played seven teams among the top five in the standings. If we look at records of individual matches played amongst the five, we see that FMRC was the runaway winner with a 23-5 record (82%), while the nearest competitor was Del Tura with a 13-15 record for 46%. 

Using the number of courts won and lost among the top five teams, Cypress Lake Country Club (CLCC), fourth in League standings, would emerge as the third best team with 12-16 (43%) record. Verandah would be the fourth best team with a 6-10 (38%) ledger. CCRC would remain the fifth-place team with a 10-18 (36%) record. 

Although a closer look suggests that FMRC was dominant, at initial glance, there was the appearance of parity in this division, at least among the top five teams. Teams 1 - 5 were separated by a mere 46 points, which meant that every match counted down the stretch. Division Winner, Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) had to play well to hold off second-place finisher Verandah, which posted three sweeps and three matches with wins on three of four courts. FMRC took three of four courts in three of their final five matches, and swept the final two to claim the Division title. 

Del Tura finished just nine points behind Verandah to claim third, and it was their misfortune to have to play FMRC in their final match. As noted above, FMRC swept that match, but they needed two match-tiebreaks to do so. 

Although this division had an unbalanced schedule as well, all teaThe 4.0-Minus Division will add three teams to their rosters, bringing the total to 17 and eliminating the need for an imbalanced schedule.  It should be much easier to determine the top team at the end of next season. FMRC will be returning to defend their title, and Verandah will also field a team, but Del Tura has bowed out of the Division this coming season. Matches don't begin until November 7 for this group.

3.5 Division
As much as I would love to do a full analysis of every division with an imbalanced schedule, time and energy won’t allow it, so I’ll do as much as I can. Initial review of the competition among the top five teams in this division indicates that the Heritage Palms Dare Doubles (HPDD) were the convincing champions of the Division. 

The Dare Doubles didn’t lose a match until the final match of the season when they were too far in front for anyone to catch them, and only split the four courts two other times. Their 20-1-1 (91%) record with 10 sweeps made them the another of the most dominant teams statistically in the entire LCWTL. HPDD won 83.2% of the available points in the 22 matches they played, and won at least three of four courts each time they played against the other teams that finished in the top five. 

CCRC won 73.2% of available points and posted winning scores in 16 of their 22 team matches to take the second spot in the Division. They only came up short against two teams that finished out of the top five and those two teams were top ten teams. Lexington was the third-place team with 67.6% of available points claimed.

With 16 teams and 22 matches in 2015-16, the 3.5 Division was imbalanced as well. However, the Division is fielding 12 teams this time around, so each team will play every other team twice. Gotta love that!  Lexington will no longer field a team in this division, but the top two teams will return. The Dare Doubles are now the Double Dares. They all take to the courts for their first matches on October 11.

3.5- Minus Division
Members of Gulf Harbour 2015-16 3.5-Minus
2nd-place Net Assets
Can I tell you that it was a major relief to get to the 3.5- Division and realize that there was no imbalanced schedule! Whew! The standings were pretty straightforward in this division, and the Legends was a cut and dried winner of the Division. Legends posted 323 points on the scoreboard, which represented 77.6% of the points available in the 16 matches that the teams played. Legends split the four courts four times, three of those times with teams that also finished among the top five in the Division. 

Gulf Harbour NetAssets (GHNA) claimed the second spot with 304 points and 73% of the points available. The NetAssets lost once all season and that was to the No.6 team Renaissance. The Landings were third in the Division winning 69.7% of available points and a 290-point total. 

Hideaway Country Club 2015-16 3.5-Minus Team
I was particularly proud of the Hideaway’s first year 3.5- team which finished ninth despite having six players rated 3.0 or 3.0-, and the majority of our players were playing the highest level they had played to date in the LCWTL. 

Jumping up to 23 teams from the 17 of last season, the 3.5-Minus women will be pleased to note that they will have 22 matches instead of the 16 they played in 2015-16. They begin play October 12. Again, all three teams that finished atop the standings will return to the Division for 2016-17.

3.0 Division
Gulf Harbour Racquettes (GHR) only had two losses, and won 72.1% of the available points in 17 matches on their way to the 3.0 Division title. Both of those losses came to teams who finished among the top five so no shame for those losses. One of those teams, Legends, earned the second slot in the standings taking 66.2% of available points in its matches. 

Pelican Preserve (PP) finished third and did all it could to catch Legends in the last match of the season. Finishing with 66% of available points and 292 points, PP fell just one point short, despite sweeping Herons Glen in the final match. Had legends taken fewer than three courts in its final match, PP’s heroic effort might have carried the day. 

This may have been the division with the closest race at the top, as only 36 points separated the top five teams. Things are likely to be just as competitive next season as the Division remains relatively unchanged. There will be 17 teams contesting the Division as opposed to the 18 that took to the courts in 2015-16, and play opens on October 31. 

3.0- Division
Hideaway Country Club's 2015-16 3.0-Minus Team
and spectators
In the 3.0- Division, Landings was well ahead of the pack with a tally of 406 points, which represented 78% of available points, and an 18-2 record. One of those losses came  to The Legends, which finished in second place with 318 points and 61.1% of available points.  The Legends hung on down the stretch, edging third-place Breckenridge (306, 58.8%) by 12 points, even though Breckenridge swept their final opponent.

Although Sundial, Lexington and The Hideaway won't be contesting the Division this coming season, Cross Creek Estates is adding an additional team, and Verandah and FMRC (displaced Hideaway players) are joining the Division. Once again 11 teams will compete for the 3.0-Minus title. The 3.0-Minus Division begins play this week, October 6! Wow! Season is here.

2.5 Division
Gulf Harbour (GH) could be considered a dynasty in the 2.5 Division and they performed as such last season. GH posted a record of 19-1-2, which is an 86% winning percentage! Using the available points system, GH took 80.4% of available points and with 460 total points, eclipsing second place Breckenridge (349, 61%) by over 100 actual and almost 20 percentage points. 

Breckenridge needed a good final match to stave off a charge from Landings Wildfire (LW, 340, 59.4%). The ladies of Breckenridge took three courts from Plantation and posted 21 points in that last match, to edge LW by nine total points and fewer than two percentage points. LW took 12 points in their final match against their sister team Landings SweetShots, and that kept them a mere four points ahead of fourth-place Lexington AlleyShots (336, 58.7%).

Lexington will be down to one 2.5 team instead of the two they fielded last season, but Heritage Palms has added two teams to bring the total to 13, up one from the 12 that competed in 2015-16. All three of the top teams will return this coming season, and play begins October 25.

Before I go, and not that you care, but my favorite team name emerged from this division? Legends StringCourtettes. How creative is that? I must admist Gulf Harbour's 3.5-Minus NetAssets and 3.5 RacqPacq, along with Cypress Lake's Dynamo Servivors were also in the running, String Courtettes definitely tickled my fancy. 

Phew! That wraps up my wrap up of the rated divisions. If you aren't already dizzy and care to see what transpired in the senior divisions, click here or return to the list of blog posts. Let's have another tremendous LCWTL season everyone! Game, set, match...T. A.