Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Halftime for Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League

At the halfway point of the Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League, Commissioner Jim “Katman” Katterfield’s Boston Retirement Advisors (BRA) continues to hold the league lead that it snatched right out of the gate, despite garnering their lowest point total (5) thus far at Fiddlesticks on Friday, December 2. In addition to retaining the lead, BRA now has the only undefeated duo that has played all four dual matches in the League.
Boston Retirement Advisors vs. AutoDrive

On Court 1, Manuel Encalada &Tyler Owens of BRA hung on for a three-set victory to keep their unblemished record intact. They topped Denny Rager & Jared Kalpin of Auto Drive (AD) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Guess these two are the Green Bay Packers of our League. They will face Scott Harrington & Shawn Hedrick next at Heritage Palms on January 13.
In Second Doubles, Frank Fourgeau & Luke Andreae suffered their first loss at the hands of the hard hitting Elliott DeBolt & Kevin Kearns. Threatened with a first set bagel, down 0-5, Frank and Luke took seven of the next nine games, losing the first 1-6, and claiming the second 6-1. The match then went to a third-set super-tiebreak, with Elliott and Kevin squeaking out the 10-8 victory.

On Court 3, with the return of “Fast Freddie” Hindle to the fray, Commish Jim Katterfield returned to the winners circle, downing Alex Hermeto & John “JJ” Jerome, 6-1, 6-3. In all fairness, I’m told that JJ was nursing an injury and Alex hadn’t been in the weight room enough to carry him. Katman dropped his first match last time out, so was happy that Fast Freddie returned to carry him to victory. This duo remains undefeated as well; they just haven’t played all the matches.
Fourth Doubles was more in keeping with the type of drama we’re used to in this league. Rob Vinal & Larry Gagnon took two tiebreaks from Dave Dooley & Rick Calton to earn two points for AD. The good news for Double D and Rick is that they got 10 more games against Rob and Larry this time than last. Progress is good; no?

Jeff Timmer & Erica Cossairt faced a tough duo of subs in Belinda Dufrene & Tony Martin, and went down in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.

Harborside Dental vs. Johnny Malloy's
At First Doubles, Mike Curran & Sergio Rebolledo brought their best for the first time this season, and were too much for Scott Harrington & Shawn Hedrick on that day. Blistering forehands was the theme of the day in this one, and Mike and Serg served up a bagel with no cream cheese in Set No.1 (6-0), before Scott and Shawn gave them a tussle in the 6-4 second.
Joel and I were no match for Jeff Diggs & Patrick Kangwa on this day. Jeff and Patrick barely broke a sweat in taking us down 6-3, 6-3 before Jeff’s home crowd. They served well, returned well, and outplayed us in all phases of the game. I played much heavier than my official weight, and my partner just couldn’t carry me through this one. It won’t be getting any easier next time out, so I’m hoping to rediscover my A-game before January 13.

After the two straight-setters on the first two courts, it’s no surprise that the next three matches went to third-set super-tiebreaks. On Court 3, Mike Lawver & Mark Drons lost another heartbreaker, this time to Jorge Magalhaes & Todd Wise, 4-6, 6-3, 8-10.
At Fourth Doubles, Anthony Hatori & Steve Shortridge took down Fran Coryell & Tony Halski 6-4, 4-6, 10-7. Steve seems to be making the super-tiebreak match a specialty. I think all but one of his matches may have gone to super-tiebreaks,  and I think he’s won just about all of them too.

At the Mixed Doubles slot, I think we had the match of the first half of the season. Christie Bradley & Dan Moenning finally overcame Kerry Kendrick & Armor Persons in the toughest match played in Pro League thus far this season.
The match was in progress when I arrived at Fiddlesticks that afternoon. After finishing my match and socializing a bit, I asked about match scores, only to find out that they were still playing! I stood there for another 10 minutes or so, watching as

Christie and Dan outlasted Kerry and Armor, 7-6, 6-7, 10-4. Wow! From what I observed, not only was the match a long one, but it was well-played. I’m betting Armor will disagree with me, but hey, I’m entitled to my opinion.

At the end of the day, the teams had just moved a little closer together, with just two points separating the second-through-fourth-place teams, and a total of five points separating first-through-fourth. The standings are: 1. Boston Retirement Advisors (26); 2. AutoDrive (23); 3. Harborside Dental (22); and 4. Johnny Malloy’s (21). When play resumes on January 13 at Heritage Palms, BRA will battle JM, and HD will face AD.
Before the season began, I predicted that we would have some really exciting match-ups this season, and I’m glad that our pros have had my back on that one. The straight-set victory has been the aberration in the League thus far, and down to the wire slugfests like we saw in the mixed doubles match described above has been the norm. When the action picks up again next month, I expect more of the same. Have a terrific holiday season and the Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League will be back with you in 2012! Game, set, match….T A

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fort Myers Senior Pro League

On Friday, December 9, new Director of Tennis, John Ramsey, and League Coordinator, Armor Persons, brought the Fort Myers Senior Pro League (SPL) to Kelly Greens. Given the cheers, banter, and gathering after the event, I believe the members were happy that they did.

The participants played one mixed doubles match and two men’s doubles matches, and one of the men's matches provided every bit as much drama and excitement as you would find in an open (as opposed to senior) Pro League event. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

The match pitting Terry See & Steve Shreiner against Armor Persons & Marius Espeleta extended well into the beer and pizza time. Lemme put it this way, when Oliver Stenger and I had finished our first two sets against John Ramsey and Mike Harley, those guys were asking if they should play a Coman tiebreak for the first set!

We had finished our third set and were into our second beer and third slice of pizza (Oliver was anyway) when those guys switched courts to play the third-set super-tiebreak! Terry and Steve ended up with the 7-6, 6-7, 11-9 win. Armor, aren’t you getting tired of these super-tiebreaks (wink)?

As promised, Marius got to every ball imaginable, crushed a multitude of forehands, and the other three displayed their well-over-a-century of experience and skill. I found myself watching their match more than the ball on our court! Oliver still carried me to a victory over John and Mike.

I don’t think John and Mike relaxed until the third set, because they lost the first two 6-2, 6-0. In 37 years of playing this game, I had never been in a match where the server double faulted four consecutive times to lose a game. I felt for Mike, but I was glad he broke my record of three doubles in a row (shared by one of my best buddies, right Dawg?) during a match in last year’s Pro League.   

Mike and John shook off those opening sets to manage a comeback from 1-3 in the third to go up 4-3. But Oliver was not to be denied on his birthday, and we claimed that set 6-4.

In other action, Kerry “Boom Boom” Kendrick really earned her nickname, and she and Fran Coryell dropped a 6-2, 6-4 bomb on Erica Cossairt and Rob Vinal. Everyone knows that Kerry hits it hard, and when she brings her A-game, life can be tough on the green stuff.

Truth be told, neither Erica nor Rob looked the least bit perturbed afterward, and I’m thinking that it had something to do with the old adage, “Alcohol heals all wounds.” Oh, it’s “Time” that heals all wounds you say? Uh, talk to Rob; he’ll straighten you out on that one.

Well, in case you didn’t get the drift, the bottom line is that the members and players had a good time at the most recent installation of the SPL, and you can do the same at the following opportunities:

January 20 at Pelican Preserve;
February 17 at Cape Coral Racquet;
March 16 at a yet to be determined site
Hope to see you out there! Game, set, match...T A

Toys for Tots @ Park Meadow & More

If only we could muster up the Christmas spirit all year round, who knows what our world would look like. Guess I should be grateful for it whenever we get it, and there was plenty to be grateful for at Park Meadow Tennis Center (PMTC) on Sunday. Gifts and food for the less than fortunate, food, drink, tennis and musical entertainment shared with friends were all present at PMTC.

Martha on the mic while Anna sets up

Laura's girls handling check in
 Event organizers, Martha Lyons-Holden and Laura DeLuca asked for an unwrapped gift and a nonperishable food item (for Harry Chapin Food Bank) as an entry fee to the festivities at PMTC, and they got that and more. Approximately 50 players (from teens to seniors) joined the fray on the courts for a “FUN” round robin, but uh, some people just don’t get the idea when you say, “fun” round robin. Or...perhaps they do, and the only way they have fun is by winning at all cost…

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 In any event, the juniors banged the ball as hard as they could and we seniors did the best we could to get the balls back… The looks on some of the faces out there reminded of people Christmas shopping (which is why I don’t do it anymore), but I certainly had a good time and I think just about everybody else did too.

Laura giving direction

Gifts a-plenty
Karen Orlando comes bearing gifts
More important than the tennis, since that really was secondary on this occasion, were the approximately 150 toys and non-perishables given by those who participated. Can you just picture the smiling faces of those who receive those gifts? In Martha’s words, “It was a great day! Thanks to all who chose to give!

Anna Jordan setting up for the party
I think special thanks must go to Anna Jordan, who brought and set up her karaoke equipment, extending the festivities well into the afternoon. Quoting Martha again, “The after party was a hoot.” Say what you may, the People at Park Meadow know how to have a good time!

Also, let’s send a note of thanks to Elaine Capps of Park Meadow Tennis Shop, who donated coupons (which may be used in the shop until December 31) to all  participants. I guess sometimes, it’s about people, and not just about how pretty a place looks and how uniform the court surface is. Thanks Park Meadow!

Carpenter & Neese Get New Gigs

Carly Carpenter, formerly on staff at Colonial Country Club, has assumed the managerial role at Fort Myers Racquet Club. Carly, a talented player in her own right, comes from a solid tennis family, as dad Keith and brother Zach are both good players. The first event under Carly's watch is the Members Christmas Social on Saturday, December 17, with a round robin from 9am - 12pm, and a holiday luncheon buffet from 12 - 2pm.

I just learned of another new appointment. Eddie Neese, one of the top Open players in the area has taken the position as coach of Canterbury School's boys’ tennis team. According to Eddie, tryouts for the team will be January 23-26, with practices starting the following week.

Regarding the new position, Eddie said, "I'm pretty excited to start there. It'll be a new experience and hopefully I'll help the kids have a good season." If Eddie coaches as well as he plays, Canterbury should be claiming a tennis championship before too long.

Other Happenings
I’m a little late on this one, and I don't know if you checked out the BonEro Tennis League (the "happy little league for women's doubles in Bonita Springs and Estero"), but if you'd like to get acquainted with the league and its players, there will be a Holiday Round Robin at Grandezza on Tuesday, 12/13 at 1pm.
Click here to contact League Coordinator Deb Graziani if interested.

Rookie Tourney @ Gateway

Alex Hermeto, Director of Tennis at Gateway Golf & Country Club, is holding a non-sanctioned Holiday Season Junior Rookie Tournament December 17 & 18. Divisions to be played include Boys and Girls 11-under, 12-under, 14-under, and 16-under. All players are guaranteed two matches and must register by Friday, December 16, by 12pm. This is an entry level tournament for kids aspiring to play middle school and high school tennis in the Winter and Spring. For more info, please call 239-561-1422.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming League Report! Game, set, match...T A

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fort Myers Tennis This Weekend 12/9 - 12/11

Senior Pro League
The Fort Myers Senior Pro League will stop at the serene setting at Kelly Greens courtesy of new Director of Tennis John Ramsey and League Coordinator Armor Persons, on Friday December 9. The over-40 league of local tennis pros and top area players (among the “long-in-the-tooth set of course) debuted at Breckenridge last month and will stop at Pelican Preserve on January 20. With the Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League on hiatus until Friday January 13 at Heritage Palms, Pro league aficionados can get their final Pro League fix of 2011 tomorrow at Kelly Greens.
Matches will begin at 3pm with host Ramsey & Mike Harley taking on Oliver Stenger & I, playing the “feature” match. I don’t know if my eyesight is good enough to even see John’s big forehand, but Oliver is still young enough to carry me...even if he’s knocking on the door to 50 with his 49th birthday tomorrow. I’m thinking that John and Mike have to let us win as a birthday present to Oliver; right?
Armor & Marius Espeleta will have their hands full with cagey vets, Terry See & Steve Shreiner. I know from experience that Steve practically never misses a return and knows what he’s doing at net, and what can we say about Terry See that everyone doesn’t already know?  But Armor’s no slouch in the cagey department and Marius crushes forehands, and can get to anything on the court. Marius has added incentive, owing Terry and Steve for a loss in the final of the Hope Hospice Charity Challenge at the Sanctuary last month.
In a mixed doubles matchup that is sure to be entertaining, Fran Coryell teams with big-hitting Kerry Kendrick to face Rob “The Body” Vinal (still trying to figure out that nickname), and the dynamic Erica Cossairt. I couldn’t bet this one with your money! I’m hoping Oliver and I win our match quickly so that I can take a peek at this one.
USPTA Pro League
I’ll be posting a recap of the Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League event that was held at Fiddlesticks Country Club last Friday (12/2) in the next day or two. The crowd at Fiddlesticks may have been the largest of the season thus far. I’m guestimating that we had over 500 in attendance, and Jeff Diggs, Tyler Owens, and the rest of the Fiddlesticks staff did their usual tremendous job of hosting.  
Christmas Special
Ok, major shift here...I don’t do the Christmas thing, but just about everyone else does, so here are some Christmas tidbits for you. According to Shawn Hedrick, who coordinated the USPTA Pro League Toys for Tots drive, te Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League has raised over 1000 toys for children in need over the past three years. Said Shawn, “I’d like to thank the Fort Myers Pro League and everyone who supports Toys for Tots charity.”
Continuing the tennis community’s Christmas contribution to the less fortunate, Park Meadow Tennis Center and Park Meadow Tennis Shop are collaborating in their own Toys for Tots effort. This weekend, on Sunday December 11, from 11am until…Park Meadow will host a Christmas Toy Drive Round Robin. Anyone donating a toy will receive a $5 coupon off a minimum $50 purchase at the Park Meadow Tennis Shop.
Organizers are asking folks to bring an unwrapped toy, and if you are going to hang around for the festivities, and play in the round robin, to bring a snack, side dish or beverage to share. If you plan to play in the round robin, please RSVP so planners can coordinate some fun tennis. RSVP to Laura at or Martha at And since Park Meadow is like the Cheers of Fort Myers tennis, you can just drop in any time to make your toy donation (1895 Park Meadows Drive, between US 41 & Summerlin).
League Report
It is just about time for the various leagues to take a break for the holiday, so I’ll post a league report encompassing Lee County, USTA, Scat, BonEro, and Land Shark leagues once the break has begun.  If you have anything of interest regarding any of the leagues, please pass it on so I can do the same. Until soon, game, set, match…T A