Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tennis on Tap for the Weekend

I’m betting you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that there is still good tennis to be had in and around town? With Ultimate Tennis Playoffs and USTA Leagues ongoing, an Open House at The Hideaway on Friday afternoon, and the Florida Cup this weekend in Naples, tennis is still hot despite so many of the faithful heading north and west.

Hideaway Open House Friday
Starting with what’s first on the agenda, The Hideaway, which I wrote about in a previous post, is having an “Open House” this Friday, the 27th from 4 – 7pm. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to come see my new tennis home, and play some fun tennis. For you serious players, we’re talking hit and giggle for the most part, ok? Click here for my piece on The Hideaway.

Florida Cup This Weekend
Florida Cup
The rosters for the 9th Annual Florida Cup to be held at the Waldorf Astoria, Naples, FL (formerly known as Naples Grande) are set. The event is a Davis Cup format with two singles matches and one doubles match played each of the two days. Teams earn a point for each match won, and the team with the highest total after all matches played wins. The Defending Champ holds the Cup in the event of a tie.

Larry Turville
I don’t know much about the players from Team East, but there are some Florida tennis heavyweights amongst Team West’s members this year as there usually are. I don’t want to jinx us, but in the divisions from 60 – 80, the West is in really good shape.

Fred Drilling
With a number of players who have been highly ranked in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings, including Larry Turville (60), Clem Hopp (80) and Fred Drilling (70), former ITF World No.1 players; Fred Farzanegan (75), and Joe Bachmann (70) former ITF World No.2 players; and Phil Landauer, former ITF World No.3, I like our chances in the upper age divisions. Oh, by the way, Fred Drilling has posted a 122-0 record in ITF play. Pretty impressive, eh?

David Vaughan
We aren’t exactly chopped liver in the lower age divisions either with players such as David Vaughan (55), a former USTA Florida No.1-ranked player, and Peter Redpath combining to form a formidable doubles team; Jorge Failla (50), who played like he was 30 the last time I saw him, and, of course, me (50). I Suspect we’ll give the East all they can handle.  
John Jerome
Other area players on the West Team include John Jerome (45), Roberto Saad (50), Larry Albritton (65), Neil McDonald and Gordon Hammes. Singles matches begin at 9:30am on Saturday and doubles will be played at 2:45pm.

USTA League Play
Cindy Cheslosky & Andrea Trank
Co-Captains of Park Meadow-Cindy
Park Meadow Tennis Center’s undefeated Park Meadow-Cindy, Women’s 3.5 team has a big match on Friday (27th) with the other undefeated team in the division. Park Meadow-Cindy will travel to Port Charlotte to take on Harold Avenue. 

Both teams are currently 4-0, so the winner will take sole possession of first place with half of the season to be played. The teams will play one more time before season’s end…in fact, in the season finale.

Ultimate Tennis
Alex & T.A.
I don’t know how many local players made the playoffs and are moving on after first round matches in the Ultimate Tennis League playoffs, but I know that Renee Bailin won her first match in the 3.5 playoffs in straight sets and I squeaked by Alex Blagojevic in three sets in the quarterfinal of the 5.5 playoffs. If you know of any other locals who are moving on in the playoffs, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

 Renee will be playing her quarterfinal by May 3rd and I have through May 11th to play my semifinal match. I’m hoping to get another shot at Jarrod Goare (sorry Willy), my only loss this season. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. 

Well, as usual I'm pretty sure there's lots more tennis happening, but I can only write about the little I know about. Back with you soon. Game, set, match...T. A.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Tennis Never Stops!

Parker Cuevas-Woodall
Parker Cuevas-Woodall Takes State Title
Just in case you missed the write up in the News-Press this past Friday, I just wanted to give a shout out of congratulations to Parker, a senior at Cypress Lake High who helps out at Steve Hedrick's Park Meadow junior camp. Parker won the individual state singles title by defeating Lakeland’s Danny Mack 6-1, 7-5 Thursday in the Class 3A state tournament in Altamonte Springs.

Kyle Yates
Parker also teamed with Kyle Yates to make it to the final of the individual doubles championship before falling 6-1, 7-5 to Leon’s Albert Alaya and Josh Record.  I'm not at all surprised by Parker's success given how much he has improved over the past few months. A couple of months ago I managed to squeak out a set amongst the several that he won. These days, I'd be struggling to get games. Congrats and keep up the good work Parker!

USTA Florida Wants You!
Love tennis? Would like to see more kids having a terrific time on the courts, perhaps developing into tournament players? Wouldn’t mind traveling Lee County developing playing opportunities for kids? Well USTAFlorida might have just the thing for you.

Susie Bessire- USTA Florida
Tennis Program Coordinator
The United States Tennis Association and its local sections, USTA Florida in our area, have been making a major push to attract youngsters to tennis, and to make the game fun, interesting , and age-appropriate. Toward that end, USTA Florida has announced a part-time position, 10 & Under Tennis Target Market Coordinator, who will be responsible for developing 10 & Under Tennis in Lee County.

Chances are the individual assuming the position will work closely with the Lee County Community TennisAssociation (LCCTA) and Susie Bessire, if efforts to make the initiative a success. Some of the main responsibilities for the position include:

  • Design a business plan to develop 10 and under tennis from schools to tennis facilities in the assigned geographic community via the USTA 10 and under tennis target market initiative.
  • Develop and build relationships with local tennis partners such as schools, parks, youth organizations and tennis facilities in building the infrastructure of 10 and under tennis.
  • Help develop both in school and out of school tennis informal play opportunities via Kids Tennis Clubs and Play Days as well as more formal play opportunities via USTA Jr. Team Tennis.
All interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter to Andy McFarland at

FGCU Men's Tennis Season Ends
Coach Weber advises Matt Rock
and Lance Lvovsky vs. Stetson
Florida Gulf Coast University's Men's Tennis Team showed tremendous promise in its first season in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the team's first Division I season. With just two seniors on the team, the Eagles finished one win shy of .500 and qualified for the A-Sun Conference Tournament. Nice work from first-year coach C. J. Weber.

USPTA Pros Van & Alex of Gateway
support the Eagles
The Eagles faced Stetson, last year's Conference Tourney Finalist, in the the first round of the tourney. They fell 4-0 after coming up just short for the doubles point. On the road, first Conference Championship, I think it was a bit too much for the young team. 

Don Ackerman- FGCU Booster
FGCU posted a winning dual-match record at home this season (6-5), but only a 1-5 record on the road. Given what we saw this season, with a bit more experience, we can expect advances on the road from the Eagles next year. 

Jerry "Duke" Babson-
FGCU Booster
I intend to do a full post season wrap-up of the team in the near future, and plans for a booster club are underway. If you are interested in helping the Eagles get to the next level, shoot me an email.

 ATP Tour
Rafael Nadal- courtesy of
"Nobody beats me eight times in a row!" That's probably what Rafael Nadal was saying to himself after he dropped a 6-3, 6-1 drubbing on Novak Djokovic. Prior to that loss, Novak had won seven in a row over Nadal, including two on clay last year during his dominant run. 

Novak Djokovic- courtesy of
Novak has returned to the "Land of Humans" and that makes Rafa the man to beat on the dirt again. Rafa won the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (means it's a biggie) for the 8th consecutive time! He can bequeath this thing to his kids, cuz he definitely owns it!

Rafa didn't drop a set during the event, while Novak struggled to tow three-setters en route to the Final. In all fairness, Novak's portion of the draw appeared to be fraught with quite a bit more danger than Rafa's. The two aren't likely to be in the same draw until the next Masters 1000 event in Madrid early next month. 

WTA Tour
Victoria Azarenka- courtesy
Maria Sharapova- courtesy

If you're more interested in the women's game, a big one with most of the heavy hitters is on tap this week at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. The top eight women in the World Rankings will be in the draw including top-ranked Victoria Azarenka, who is having almost as good a start as Novak did last year, and Maria Sharapova who has fought her way back to No.2 in the world. 

Azarenka will be coming off her first loss of the year (to Marion Bartoli in Miami) after having gone 26-1, so we will see if she returns as dominant as she was prior to that loss. 
Aggie Radwanska- courtesy
Fourth-seed Aggie Radwanska returns for her first event after beating Maria in the Final of the Sony in Miami. Radwanska is on Azarenka's half of the draw, however, and hasn't been able to get past Azarenka this season, going down four consecutive times. 

With defending Wimbledon Champ Petra Kvitova also in the mix, the fireworks should be flying even though we're quite a ways away from July 4th. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tennis Happenings in, around and about Fort Myers/Naples

Last weekend was a good weekend for Fort Myers tennis! Steve Shortridge and I made the three hour, 45 minute trek across the State to play in the USPTA Florida Fast Dry & 10S Supply Grand Prix event at Eau Gallie Yacht Club, and we both played in the finals of our divisions.

FGCU Update
Even better for local tennis fans was news of the victory that FGCU’s Men’s Tennis posted against Belmont in Tennessee last Saturday to gain entry to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament in their first season of eligibility.

Add caption
According to Coach C. J. Weber, “…with our backs against the wall, we played the best tennis of the year. After losing to Lipscomb 4-3 the previous day, the boys’ true colors came out and they showed ultimate resiliency.” The Eagles came into the match with Belmont, which Coach Weber called, “a veteran squad” (all juniors and seniors), needing a win to clinch a berth in the Conference Championship.

After dropping the doubles point, the Eagles soared with clutch performances from Tianyu Bao at No.1 Sinlges, Dean Tsamas at No.3, Matt Rock at No.4, and Mike Beiler on Court.6. 

Jackson Moore and Lance Lvovsky suffered tough losses, but those were probably their least painful losses of the season.

The Conference Tournament, held in Johnson City, Tennessee, begins for the Eagles today (Friday, April 20) at 11am against third-seeded Stetson
The Stetson Hatters, boasts the Conference’s Player of the Year in Maksim Levanovich, who plays No.1 Singles and Doubles. The Hatters are also last year’s tournament Runners Up.

The Eagles’ Tianyu Bao, almost took down Levanovich in their dual meet matchup on April 7, losing 11-9 in the third-set super-tiebreak. Bao took home Freshman of the Year for his 8-8 record at the No.1 Singles position, and he, along with Mike Beiler, was named to the Conference All Freshman Team. You can follow the Conference Tournament  by clicking here  and check up on FGCU’s progress here.

Ultimate Tennis Playoffs Begin
Alex Blagojevic & T A
after Regular Season Match
Some still refer to it as K-Swiss, but the Ultimate Tennis League (UTL) is the same, no matter what name you call it. It's just plain competitive fun! It was fun years ago when I first played it, and it has been fun this Spring season. 

Willy Hoffman, Week 6 Opponent
If you aren't familiar, in a nutshell, UTL is a league of rated divisions (3.0 - 6.0), wherein UTL sets the League Schedule, consisting of predetermined "play by" dates, and the individual players in the divisions schedule and play their matches at sites of their choosing and enter their scores online. If you finish at or near enough to the top of your division, you make the Playoffs.

Duane Chaney, first opponent
Well the Playoffs are here and a few of us around town who enjoy the thrill of competition have made it to the Playoffs. In our local Division of the 5.5 League, Jarrod Goare claimed the top spot, handing me my sole defeat. I finished second in our Division in points, but played one match fewer than the other seven players. Alex Blagojevic, who handed Jarrod his only loss of the season in three sets and Willy Hoffman finished third and fourth respectively and will also be in the Playoffs

Alex, 1st playoff opponent
I will play Alex in a quarterfinal match this coming Monday at The Hideaway, at 5pm. I got the victory in three sets during the regular season, so I'm sure Alex is chomping at the bit. Jarrod will play Willy, and if we both get through, I'll get another crack at Jarrod. Guess who's chomping at the bit now?

Renee Bailin- Playoff bound
A number of other local players are in the Playoffs as well. They include Denise Weisinger, who finished No.1 in her Women's 3.5 Division, but fell in the first playoff round to Heidi Smith of Bradenton; Renee Bailin, playing UTL for the first time, and finishing tied for second with Darina Cammarato behind Denise. 

Also in the 3.5 Division and deserving of special mention is Peggy Voss, who played five three-setters in her seven matches, including the first four, of which she won three. In all, she won four of the five three-setters and is scheduled to play Allison Griffin of Bradenton in her first playoff match. 

Florida Cup
The 2012 edition of the Florida Cup will be held in Naples on April 28 & 29. The Florida Cup is a men's, age group, Davis Cup format tennis competition that pits players selected to represent the West Coast of Florida against players selected to represent the East Coast.  Age groups are from 35 - 80 in five-year increments, and I will represent the West's 50 Division. 

2007 Nat'l Public Parks
Champ Norm Schellinger
Until 2011, the West had been undefeated in the competition (click here for details).  I was fortunate enough to represent the West's 45 Division in 2008, and had two of my best competitive wins in the most lopsided of the West's seven victories. 

Gary Clermont, former USTA
Florida Men's 45 No.1
That year, I beat the National Public Parks Champion in straight sets, and the next day beat the No.1 player in Florida at the time, coming back from 2-6, 1-5 down to win the match. 

Teams are still being formed, and I'll bring you up to date on team rosters, location, etc. as soon as I have the info. This is usually a pretty spirited event, so if you aren't busy next weekend you might want to put it on the calendar. It might be worth the trip. 

There's more to cover, but I have to get this out before hitting the court this morning. Have a great tennis weekend and there'll be more soon. Game, set, match...T. A.

There's more to cover, but 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hideaway Country Club No Longer a Secret

I’m guessing that you have not heard of The Hideaway Country Club, and if you have, it was only recently or a long time ago. Well, if you haven’t heard of The Hideaway, I’d like to introduce you, and if you have, I’d like to bring you up to date.

Front gate
Hmmm, lemme see…trying to capture and portray this one-of-a-kind gem in words is tough, even for one who thrills in throwing words around…Ok, it’s definitely an old Florida condominium-style community, and there is all of the old school charm that you are likely to find at any well-preserved haven hidden amidst modern marvels.

Clubhouse entry
Developed in 1984, the Hideaway Community consists of five villages (496 homes) with names you would only recognize if you were an avid golfer. They include Augusta, Baltusrol, Greenbriar, Merion and Oakmont. I’m making a push to get one of these renamed “Wimbledon,” but the odds aren’t real good on that.

Tennis Center landscaping
I could write a lot about characteristics of The Hideaway, but I just want to give you a little taste of the place. You can come check things out yourself and savor the full flavor.

Tennis Cabana
For tennis devotees, The Hideaway offers four pristine, hardly used, HydroGrid, HarTru clay courts that are in as good a condition as any we played on during Pro League this year. And, you now get my USPTA professional services, access to Park Meadow Tennis Center teams and other competitive opportunities.

View from 1st Hole
If you enjoy golf as well as tennis, you get a sweet, not-so-little (over 5000 yards) Ron Garl-designed golf course that will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014, and the PGA expertise of Sean Balliet, formerly of The Dunes.  
1st Hole
The Hideaway leadership is making sure that the anniversary celebration will be a stylish one, with a renovation to the tune of almost $1mil this summer.

New fitness center
So there’s tennis, there’s golf, and  a brand new fitness center for those who plan to play golf and tennis into their 80s and 90s as some do at The Hideaway. 

Of course, like any old school country club, there’s food…and I mean good food. Since we’re always real here, I should probably tell you that we’re not talking about a menu you’re likely to find at a $30k-membership club, nor plush, fine dining ambiance. But we are talking fresh, creative, and tasty, and perfect for an after-tennis refreshment gathering.

Sean and Gerry Welcome Andrea & Cindy of
one of Park Meadow's 3.5 USTA Teams
In addition to the terrific courts that I know you will love, perhaps one of the most attractive features of The Hideaway, especially in today’s financially challenged environment, is its “big-bang-for-the-buck” nature. Personally, I love the location, just a mile and a half from home and less than that from US 41. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

I can’t wrap up this post without acknowledging the small, but so very congenial and helpful tennis membership at the Hideaway. Like the place itself, I don’t think you could find a group of tennis aficionados like this one anywhere else. Saying that these folks are welcoming and helpful is like saying Donald Trump has a few dollars in his wallet.

Gerry Courtney
I think I mentioned earlier that the courts were in great shape? Well, Armor Persons of Court Master Tennis Services has something to do with that, but the members brush and line the courts faithfully after every use, and with Bill Dey and Gerry Courtney attending to the courts and their surroundings daily, it is truly a pleasure to walk through the tennis gate.

Sean Balliet
Oliver Stenger, owner of Park Meadow Tennis Center, and Sean Balliet, Director of Golf, Tennis & Agronomy at The Hideaway, are currently working on an agreement that will benefit the membership of both clubs.  I look forward to bringing you the details of that agreement once it has been finalized.

Meanwhile, I have heard through the tennis grapevine that there are a few players and teams looking for a tennis home. If you happen to be one of those, then I think you owe it to yourself to come take a look at The Hideaway. Before you choose a new home, why don't you drop in on our Hideaway Tennis Open House on Friday, April 27 at 4pm. Please let us know if advance if you plan to attend, and bring your racquet!

I can tell you that I’m happy to be there and you might be too! Drop by, send us an email, or give us a call if you want to explore (, 239-275-5581), 5670 Trailwinds Drive). Game, set, match...T. A.