Saturday, May 26, 2012

French Open Women's Preview

I’m guessing I don’t really have to remind you that the French Open, the year’s second Grand Slam, begins tomorrow. But just in case your mind is like a suitcase needing a heavyweight to sit on it to close, I’ll just jog your memory. THE FRENCH OPEN STARTS TOMORROW! That’s Sunday, May 27th.  

According to the official tournament website, you can watch the event on ESPN 2, ESPN 3, NBC, and, of course, Tennis Channel. Click the above link to check out the very user friendly broadcast schedule Tennis Channel put together for us.

Okay, so that's where you can check out the French live and taped, and, of course, here is where you get my take on things, before, during and after they happen. Here’s my “before” on the women. Won't get the men done tonight. Will have to be a during I guess... 

Anyway,  as terrific as the tennis is likely to be when the men take the court, I’m willing to lay odds that Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic will be crowned Champion when it is all said and done. Sure there’s always a chance for injury, and there is always the possibility of an upset, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Of all the Grand Slam events, this one is least likely to produce upsets and surprise winners…at least on the men’s side.

The Women’s Draw on the other hand, is chock full of intrigue and possibilities. Can Maria Sharapova capture another Slam? Is Agnieszka Radwanska for real? How about Victoria Azarenka, or Serena Williams? Are they healthy and ready to challenge for the Cup?

Victoria Azarenka preparing for
French- photo courtesy of Dan
Istitene- Getty Images
Vika (Azarenka) is seeded No.1 and still the top-ranked woman in the world. She started 2012 the way Djokovic started 2011, winning the first four events of the year that she played, including the Australian Open, before losing in the Quarters at the Sony in Miami. Since Miami, she has lost in two Finals and withdrew from her last event, Rome two weeks ago.

Reviewing the Draw, it seems unlikely that Azarenka will exit before the quarters, but that is only if the shoulder injury she claimed in defaulting in Rome a couple weeks ago is either healed or was a convenient explanation for pulling out of Rome.  

Maria Sharapova at 2011 French
Photo courtesy of KT at Flickr
One of those finals losses Vika suffered was to Maria Sharapova, who is ranked No.2 in the world and seeded second at Roland Garros. Sharapova is arguably the hottest player right now on the Women’s Tour. She has played in the Final of four of the five events she has played since the beginning of March.

In her last three events, Maria beat Vika in the Final of Stuttgart, Lost to Serena Williams in the Quarters of Madrid, and beat Na, Li (Lee Nah) in the Final of Rome last week. She was shaky enough in that win to give me pause about her chances if she runs in to Agnieszka (Aga) Radwanska, Serena, or Vika, but she has been right in the thick of things all year. As in boxing, you can’t rule out a slugger, and Maria is that…along with a screecher.

Agnieszka Radwanska- Photo
courtesy of AP
Aga Radwanska usually flies under the radar, and I don’t believe this time around is any exception to that rule. In four of Radwanska’s first six events of 2012, the sizzling Azarenka sent her home, she pulled out of one, and won the other. And then she won Miami, beating Sharapova in the Final, and lost in the semis of her next two events to…yeah, you guessed it, Azarenka.

I’m thinking that Aga just didn’t want to meet Azarenka again in Rome, where she lost to Petra Cetkovska in her first match, the first time all year she has lost to anyone other than Azarenka, and the first time she had lost in her first match. Aga bounced back to take the title in Brussels last week, but, again, you guessed it: Azarenka wasn’t there.

Radwanska has an outside chance at Roland Garros, but she would have to get past a much tougher draw than Azarenka has to reach the Semis, then face a possible matchup with Azarenka in the there. Did I say an “outside chance?” Wayyyy outside…

Serena Williams gets ready for
French Open- Photo courtesy of AP
If it weren’t for the facts that No.5 Seed Serena Williams won her only French Open title a decade ago, and one never knows how healthy she is, she would be my pick to win Roland Garros…but then she’d be my pick to win just about everything. How do you bet against the woman who has more than three times as many Grand Slam singles titles than anyone else in the draw except her sister…who hasn’t won anything since 2010, and a Slam since 2008.  

After thrashing Azarenka in straight sets in Madrid earlier this month, Serena pulled out of Rome after winning her quarterfinal match, 4-0, Ret. Her reason for withdrawing from the semifinal match against Na, Li was “feeling a little pain” in her back. Serena generally has a pain, real or otherwise, somewhere, and will probably bring the pain, along with her 17-match win streak, to the French.  Serena’s my odds on favorite.

Petra Kvitova
Photo courtesy of
But there are others I need to mention. Petra Kvitova is seeded fourth, but she has the proverbial snowball’s chance of winning this thing. Since her Wimbledon victory last year, she hasn’t done much winning. No.7 Seed Na Li and No.10 Angelique Kerber present as much of a threat as anyone outside of my four favorites (Serena, Azarenka, Sharapova, Radwanska).

Li is the defending French Open Champion and although she lost a tight one to Sharapova in Rome last week, she showed that at least her physical game is up to snuff. Whether she can figure out how to close the deal in a close one, we’ll have to see. 

Angelique Kerber
Photo courtesy of
Kerber has some good wins this year (Sharapova, Wozniacki, Kvitova), indicating that she has enough game to compete with the big girls. However, she hasn’t had a break-out event yet, and although it isn’t likely, she couldn’t pick a better stage to announce herself.

Caroline Wozniacki- Photo
courtesy of
Remember Caroline Wozniacki? She was the much maligned World No.1 who hadn’t won a Grand Slam, the Dane who fell a bit short of being great…Well Caroline is seeded ninth and no one even mentions her as a threat to win the event, but I’m giving her a dark-horse (as in midnight black) chance to win Roland Garros.

No.6 Seed Sam Stosur made it to the Final in 2010 and won the U.S. Open last year, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note this year, making to one semi and one final in 2012. She is as long a shot or longer than anyone else seeded in the top ten.

Venus WIlliams- Photo courtesy
Other than Serena, no American women figure to factor in the proceedings in Week 2. Venus Williams is the most valid threat to reach the second week of play, showing in Rome that she is regaining form by reaching the quarters before losing to eventual winner Sharapova.

Christina McHale- Photo
courtesy of
Twenty-year-old Christina McHale represents the most accomplished of the young American talents in the Draw, having reached the third round of the U.S. Open and the second round of Wimbledon in 2011. McHale is ranked 36th but is 29th in the WTA Tour 2012 Singles Race.

Sloane Stephens- Photo courtesy of
There are other young American women creeping into the WTA picture, including Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis, both 19, and Jamie Hampton at 22.  None is likely to make Roland Garros her coming out party, but they bear watching just the same. Vania King and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, both seasoned veterans, comprise the rest of the American contingent competing in Paris.

Well it's getting late so I had better get this published. Hope to be able to provide updates and analysis as the event progresses. Game, set, match...T. A.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Summer Tennis Heating Up

Relatively Recent Happenings
Hideaway No Longer Hidden
I recently exposed the best kept secret in FOrt Myers tennis, and that was The Hideaway Golf & Country club, "hidden away" just east of US 41 and slightly north of Crystal Drive. Well, the secret is definitely out because at least two Lee County Women's Tennis League (LCWTL) teams will make The Hideaway their home this coming fall. 

Bert Ann Haas
Within the past week, a Copper team led by Bert Ann Haas, and a 3.0 team led by Pearle Warren have joined The Hideaway. Talks are underway with at least one other team to make The Hideaway their home base for league play. If you are interested in playing on a Hideaway team, becoming a member, or just checking the place out, drop me an email at

Naples City Championships 
Luke Andreae
Two Fort Myers USPTA Pro League regulars who you may know haved moved into the later rounds of the 43rd Annual Naples City Tennis Championships at the Arthur Allen Tennis Center in Cambier Park. No.3 Seed John Jerome of Wildcat Run was the first player to reach the Men’s NTRP 5.0 Semifinals.

John Jerome
John battled Jim Harris, an occasional Pro League sub, for three sets before claiming the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory. On the same half of the draw, is No.1 Seed Luke Andreae, another long-time Pro League stalwart from Punta Gorda. Luke had little trouble getting past his quarterfinal opponent, Alvaro Rincon, posting a 6-3, 6-1 victory, and will face John in the Semis.

Ultimate Tennis Finals
Alberto del Valle (2.5 Division) of Three Oaks Park, Monroe Smith (3.0 Division) of Paseo, and yours truly (5.5), now playing out of The Hideaway Golf & Country Club, claimed Ultimate Tennis Championships Last Saturday at the Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota. Click here for details.

FMRC 3.5 Men at USTA Regionals
The 3.5 Senior Men’s team from Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) participated in the Section Tournament on May 4-6, and did pretty well despite being short-staffed. With only six players making the trip to Daytona, members of the FMRC crew were able to win four consecutive matches before falling in the Championship match, their fifth match in 3 days. 

USTA Men's 3.5 Regional Finalists
They lost to Defending Champion Marion County. Team members included: Kevin Gaines (Captain), Steve Crosby, Thomas Carlisle, Mark Fair, Paul Marinell, and Dan Campbell. 

Sanibel Island Open
Jason Goare, newly of Fort Myers, was the Finalist in the Men’s Open of the Sanibel Island Open played at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, May 4 -6. Jarod fell to No.1 Seed Michael Ray Palleres, who is currently ranked in the top 1200 players in the world.

Ed Bolter
Another local player, No. 2 Seed Ed Bolter, had a good showing in the event as well, losing a tough three-setter in the Final to Phil Girrbach, 6-3, 4-6, 1-0.

Colonial Jr. Challenge
Logan Glock a few
earth rotations ago
At the Colonial Junior Challenge, at Colonial Country Club, Top Seed Logan Glock made it to the Final of the Boys’ 14s before falling to No.2 Seed Raul Rodriguez of Marco Island, 4-6, 3-6. In the Boys’ 18s, Adam Hamilton of Fort Myers downed Kevin Bartlett of Estero, 2-6, 6-2, 1-0. In the Girls’ 14s Shani Idlette gave the No.1 Seed and eventual Champion Ariel Schneider of Canton, GA a scare in the Semis before losing 1-6, 6-4, 0-1.
Playing Opportunities
Although many of our tennis friends have headed for theoretically cooler climes for the summer, there are plenty of opportunities for you to stay on the courts and in the game.

USTA Leagues
USTA Florida’s Adult Combo, Senior Combo and Adult Mixed Leagues are about to start and if you want a chance to go to a regional or national championship event this is one of the better options available. Actually it is the only option if a national event is on your bucket list.

In case you haven’t done USTA Leagues before, a Combo League combines your ability rating (and you can self rate if don’t already have a rating) and your partner’s to come up with a team rating. You both have to be 18 years old or more. A Senior Combo League is pretty much the same with the addendum that all players have to be at least 50-years old or turning 50 this year.  The Adult Mixed Doubles League is simply a combo league with men and women as partners.

Registration is open for all three leagues and closes on Friday, June 1st. Play begins the week of June 18th and runs through August 24th for the Combo Leagues, and June 23rd through August 25th for the Mixed League. For more info on the Adult Combo League, contact Kevin Gaines at, and for the Senior Leagues contact Jon McVety at

Ultimate Tennis
The Ultimate Tennis Summer Season is just about here. Singles deadline for men and women is May 25th, and Mixed Doubles is June 8th. Doubles won’t kickoff until July. Click here if you want to test your game against competition on your own terms.

Wildcat Run
Free men’s 3.0 and 3.5 round robins on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:30am. Call John Jerome at 239-947-2323

Beachview Belmont
Toni Halski and Beachview Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel will be hosting the Beachview Belmont Golf & Tennis Championships on Saturday, June 9th. The event is a combination golf and tennis competition with two person teams. The tennis will consist of Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles competition, and golf will be a two-person scramble. The entry fee is $50 per person and that includes tennis, golf, and lunch! The entry deadline is Wednesday, June 6th. If you want in, call 239-472-9099

Land Sharks
Land Sharks Tennis is having its 2nd Annual Battle of Champions on June 23 & 24 at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Miromar Lakes. The battle pits 4.0 through 5.0-plus Land Sharks members from Lee and Collier Counties against each other in a team competition.

In the inaugural event, according to coordinator Orlando Ferrer, “Land Sharks Collier team prevailed over Land Sharks Lee team overwhelmingly…” In addition to the Men’s Singles and Doubles that were included last year, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles will be added to the competition this time around.

Interested players in their respective counties should contact the event Captains:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ultimate Tennis Spring Season Wrap Up

It wasn’t the best of days for me on Ultimate Tennis Finals Day last Saturday, but thanks to generosity of my opponent, No.1 Seed and Defending Champ Damir Sejdic, I walked away from the Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota as the 5.5 Champion for the 2012 UT Spring Season.

I honestly believe that Damir had to work really hard to give me that match. It’s hard for me to imagine that a player of his caliber (protests of being out of shape notwithstanding) could lose to someone playing the way I played on Saturday. It was quite telling when, after the match, another competitor asked whether our match had been the 4.0 Final!

As for the match itself, Damir served for the first set at 5-2 and allowed me to come back to take it 7-5. He went up an early break in the second, leading 3-1, and then did all he could to let me back in it. I accepted that set, 6-4, and the match.

While I suppose the bottom line is that I got the “W,” the real bottom line for me is that I had better not perform like that at the Fast-Dry & 10s Supply 2011 Grand Prix Circuit @ Club Med - Port St Lucie in a couple weeks or it will be an early exit from that affair. But enough about me…Let’s see how our other locals did in the UT Finals.

Men’s 5.0
No.2 Seed Miguel Scheel, of Bella Terra in Estero, made up for his loss in last summer’s UTL 4.5 Division Final, by claiming the 5.0 Division in his first effort in that division. Scheel ended his undefeated season by downing No.4 Seed Michael Gough of Sarasota, an 11-season, UTL veteran, 7-5, 6-0. He will be obliged to move up to 5.5 next season. Congrats Champ!

Men’s 3.0
No.1 Seed Monroe Smith of Paseo proved that he was the cream of the crop in the Men’s 3.0 Division. Smith punctuated his undefeated season, one in which he was pushed to a third set just once, by dispatching first-time UTL player and No.15 Seed Frank Joseph of Palmetto, 6-1, 6-3. It was Smith’s fourth and most likely final campaign in the 3.0 Division.

Men’s 2.5
Alberto del Valle of Three Oaks Park in Fort Myers got redemption in the Men’s 3.0 Final, by edging Timothy Kenaga of Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.  del Valle had lost to 5-7, 2-6 to Kenaga in Week 4 of the regular season, but apparently figured out the winning formula in the Final. Along with his title, del Valle gained entrance to the 3.0 Division.

Women’s 3.5
Unfortunately for No.4 Seed Renee Bailin, playing out of Cape Coral Racquet Club, she ran into a player who refused to lose. Sue Anderson, seeded sixth, won her fifth consecutive three-set match to claim the Women’s 3.5 Championship.  Renee still is to be congratulated for making the Final in her first UT attempt, and I should be chastised for not preparing her for a moon-baller.

But the 3.5 Division was All about Anderson. In the last match of the regular season, she won a third set tiebreak after losing the second set in a tiebreak. In three of her four playoff victories, including the Final, Anderson lost the first set before claiming the final two. In the Semis, she won the first easily, lost the second, and then held on for the third. Yes, Sue Anderson did it the old-fashioned way: she earned it!

Women’s 3.0
No.3 Seed Jenny MacDermott of Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) made it through to the Final after a controversial finish to her semifinal match with Joy Dickey of FMRC, but couldn’t get past No.4 Seed Julia Owens of Cape Coral. MacDermott struggled to be competitive in the first set, losing 1-6, but battled back gamely in the second. She couldn’t quite get over the hump and lost the second 5-7.

Next Up
Thanks for the terrific customer service as always Solvi! As I have said, you are the heart and "Sol" of Ultimate Tennis :). Well, Spring Season down, Summer Season about to begin. Without special dispensation I'll be on the sidelines cheering on everyone else. I may have won the battle, but I lost the war, right Damir :)? That's okay. Less than two weeks to Port St. Lucie and the big boys. Game, set, match...T. A.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ultimate Tennis Playoff Update

The moment we have waited for is here! It is Finals Saturday in the Ultimate Tennis League. Everyone playing at the Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota on Saturday will have earned the right to be there, having expended an abundance of energy and sweat on the tennis courts. I’m also willing to bet that everyone there also will have done considerable work on their games over the past couple of months.

As usual, the coverage in this blog is pretty much limited to players who call the Greater Fort Myers area home, so the following is about those in the area who made it to the Finals. So what’s in store on Saturday?
Men’s 5.5
In the Men’s 5.5 Final, I will be facing No.6 Seed (LOL, forgive me!) Damir Sejdic of Sarasota at 12:30pm. In my semifinal match, Jarrod Goare didn’t make it easy for me by any means. He had taken me down in straight sets when we played in the regular season, and if his serve had been on this past Monday, I probably would have gone down in straight sets then as well…but aren’t there always some “ifs” anytime there is a contest?

The bottom line is that I hung in there, worked as hard as I have in a match in a very, very long time, and was rewarded with the “W.” The final score: 6-4 (after being down 2-4), 3-6 (after being up 2-0, and Jarrod serving at 15-40), 11-9 in the super tiebreak (after being up 8-5, then down 8-9 with Jarrod serving). Chalk one up for the AARP crowd! I hope I don’t have another 30-year-old in the Final…unless I win of course.

Speaking of the Final, I can’t figure out how my opponent is seeded sixth! Let’s see…Sejdic has won two of the last three 5.5 UTL Leagues and was a finalist in the third. He will be going for the “three-peat” when we play. Sixth seed? I suspect I am in for one heck of a match.

Anybody with the smarts to figure out how to work the system well enough to be two-time Defending Champion and yet earn just a sixth seed, is going to be very tough. And, perhaps he has figured that losing or winning three-setters in tiebreaks is the way to go. Sejdic played eight tiebreaks this past season, including playoffs, winning six of them. I wouldn’t be surprised to play one or more in the Final.

Men’s 5.0
No.2 Seed Miguel Scheel, of Bella Terra in Estero, fell short in last summer’s UTL 4.5 Division Final, but is in the Final of the 5.0 Division in his first effort in that division. Scheel posted an undefeated record this season, defeating No.3 Seed Matthew Roszkowski 7-6, 6-4 in the Semis for his ninth consecutive win.  Scheel will battle No.4 Seed Michael Gough of Sarasota, an 11-season, UTL veteran who upset No.1 Seed Tom Buzas 7-6, 6-4 in the Semis. They play at 12:30pm.

Men’s 3.0
No.1 Seed Monroe Smith of Paseo had a tad more trouble dispatching No. 4 Seed Jack Karkis, also of Paseo, in their semifinal match than he did in their regular season meeting. Smith defeated Karkis 6-4, 6-4, after having beaten him 6-2, 6-4 in Week 3 of the regular season.

Smith will take on first-time UTL player and No.15 Seed Frank Joseph of Palmetto, who defeated Denis Rey of Sarasota 7-5, 6-4 in the other semifinal match. Joseph won a tough one in the Quarters over No.2 Seed Ron Greene (4-6, 7-5, 7-6) before winning his next two matches in straight sets, so Smith has a battle on his hands. They play at 10am.

Men’s 2.5
Timothy Kenaga of Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral, will face Alberto del Valle of Three Oaks Park in Fort Myers in the Men’s 3.0 Final. It will be a rematch of the straight-set victory Kenaga posted over del Valle during the regular season. They play at 12:30pm.

Women’s 4.0
Neither of the Gateway Country Club semifinalists reached the Final this time around, as Sandy Mooney of Osprey got past Mary Beth Brunner in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) in one Semifinal, and Susan Adrian of Ave Maria ground out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Lisa Gottesman in the other. The two will meet at 10am for bragging rights.

Women’s 3.5
Renee Bailin, playing out of Cape Coral Racquet Club, will meet Sue Anderson of Venice in the Final of the Women’s 3.5 Division at 10am. Renee is in her debut UTL season, so reaching the Final is quite an accomplishment. Seeded fourth, Renee downed No.1 Seed Cynthia Dietz in the Semis, 6-2, 4-6, retired. An injury forced Cynthia to pull out of what should have been one heck of a third set.

Renee will have her work cut out for her in the Final against Anderson, who has won four consecutive three-set matches, three in these Playoffs! In her semifinal match, Anderson edged No.2 Seed Juvy Sutherland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6. That victory was vindication for the 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 loss to Sutherland in Week 2, the only three-set loss on her record this season. I’m hoping to catch some of this one!
Women’s 3.0
Also at 10am, it will be No.3 Seed Jenny MacDermott of Fort Myers Racquet Club and No.4 Seed Julia Owens of Cape Coral in the Final of the Women’s 3.0 Division. MacDermott moved on to the Final under unfortunate circumstances (injury and controversy) surrounding her 7-5, 3-3 (retired) semifinal victory over seventh-seeded Joy Dickey.  

Owens moved past Virginia Forget of Estero in three sets, posting a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 come-from-behind victory. Owens got off to a slow start this season, losing her first match, but was not threatened the rest of the way in her division. MacDermott lost just one match herself during the regular season, so this Final ought to be pretty competitive as well. 

I hope to be reporting back as this season's Ultimate Tennis 5.5 Champion, but regardless of the outcome, it has been a rewarding season. Oh, and let me remind you once again that you, too, can get in the game, be it singles, doubles or mixed, by logging onto the Ultimate Tennis website and registering. The singles deadline is fast approaching (May 25th), but you have some time for doubles and mixed. This ain't EA Sports, but "Get in da Game!" Game, set, match...T. A.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crunch Tine in Ultimate Tennis League Playoffs

If you love playing with something on the line, playing new people, encountering different styles of play, being able to do all of the above on your own time, AND superb customer service (thanks Solvi!), then I can’t think of any reason you wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy playing the Ultimate Tennis League (UTL), formerly known as K-Swiss.

Over the past five years I have played seven seasons, and haven’t played more only because of work-induced energy deficits and injuries. My most recent UTL foray, still ongoing as I write, has been no less fulfilling than any of the others. 

Jarrod Goare
Today I play my Semifinal against Jarrod Goare, the top point earner in our Division of the 5.5 League, playing out of Bell Tower Park. Jarrod delivered my lone defeat of the regular season, so I’ll have to bring some more game this time around if I’m to move on to the Finals at the Longwood Athletic Club in Sarasota this weekend. 

Women’s 3.5 League
Renee Bailin
In examining the playoff draws of the various divisions, it’s apparent that there are quite a few players in our area who like to compete. Among my favorites (ya think maybe because we work together?) is Renee Bailin, who made her UTL debut this season, and has made it to the Women’s 3.5 Semifinals.

Actually she’s one of my favorites because she loves the game and competition like I do, and has “true grit!” To make it to the semis, Renee had to come back from 1-5 down in the third set to win 6-3, 4-6, 7-6. In her semifinal match this Thursday, Renee will be facing another local, Cynthia Dietz, who is playing out of Paseo. 

Cynthia Dietz
Cynthia has only dropped one set in the eight matches she has played this season, so Renee has her work cut out for her. I have more faith in her getting to the Final than my getting there though!

Women’s 3.0 League
Julia Owens
The Women’s 3.0 Division Playoffs is dominated by locals, with all four semifinalists calling the Greater Fort Myers area home. In one semi, Virginia Forget of Estero, who upset the No.1 Seed in the Quarters, will take on fourth-seed Julia Owens of Cape Coral. 

In the other, No.3 Seed Jenny Macdermott of Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) will take on seventh-seeded Joy Dickey, also of FMRC, who downed No.2 Seed Joan Weder in the Quarters.

Women’s 4.0 League
Mary Beth Brunner
In the Women’s 4.0, Top Seed Mary Beth Brunner of Gateway Golf and Country Club (GGCC) will face No.4 Seed Sandy Mooney of Osprey in one Semifinal. Both ladies are UTL vets (11 and 6 seasons respectively) and both are tough competitors with only one loss each this season.

In the Quarters, Mooney posted a straight-set victory over the very game Laura DeLucca, who beat Brunner in straight sets during the regular season. However, Bruner took down Jacqueline Moore of Port Charlotte in a straight-set quarterfinal match, and Mooney had to go three to beat Moore in the regular season. Ought to be a fun match!

Lisa Gottesman
In the other Semi, No.10 Seed Lisa Gottesman, also of GGCC, matches up with No.6 Susan Adrian of Anna Maria. Both upset higher seeds to reach the Semis, and both had to battle through adversity to get there. Gottesman went 7-6, 2-6, 6-0 in her Round of 16 match, then won 7-6, 6-2 over the No.2 Seed, Joanne Wuelfing of Sarasota, in the Quarters. Adrian had to overcome a dropped first set against No.3 Seed Vicky Boyd of Fort Myers in the Quarters, taking the final two sets, 6-4, 6-3. There could be two Gateway sisters fighting for the Championship in this one.

Men’s 2.5 League
In a rematch of one played in the regular season, Timothy Kenaga of Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral, will face Alberto del Valle of Three Oaks Park in Fort Myers. Kenaga should be confident coming in, having posted a straight-set victory over del Valle the first time around.

Men’s 3.0 League
Tim Chakos
Two locals have a chance to reach the final of this division, and another rematch is the story. No.1 Seed Monroe Smith of Paseo will take on No. 4 Seed Jack Karkis, also of Paseo. Smith handed Karkis a straight-set loss (6-2, 6-4) in Week 3 of the regular season, so Karkis will be looking for redemption.

Mike Walley
Smith overcame a stiff challenge in the Quarters, losing the first set 4-6, and edging Tim Chakos of Bradenton 7-6, 7-6 in the final two sets. Karkis took his Quarterfinal match 6-2, 6-3 over Michael Walley of Bradenton.

Men's 3.5 League
The Men’s 3.5 Division is one of the toughest to work one’s way through, and working his way through to the Playoff Draw is exactly what No.16 Seed Tim Hamilton of FMRC has done to reach the Semis. In both the Round of 16 and the Quarters, Hamilton dropped the first set, only to come back and win the match. 

In the Quarters against Jeff Stevenson, also of FMRC, Hamilton lost the first set 4-6, before finishing off Stevenson 6-0, 6-0. Hamilton will have to get past fourth-seeded Raul Elizalde of Sarasota to reach the Final.
Another local, fifth-seeded Steve Gaczkowski of Rookery Pointe in Estero reached the Quarters, but fell 4-6, 3-6, to Elizalde. If Hamilton makes it to the Final he will play either Mark Smith of Sarasota or Dale Abbott of Bradenton.

Men's 4.0 League
Gary Rodgers
Only local, Gary Rodgers of Heritage Palms Golf and Country Club (HPGCC), made the Quarters of the 4.0 Men, and he defaulted his match. Jaime Weisinger of Fort Myers was seeded fourth after a strong regular season, but ran into ringer Jason Liu in the Round of 16 and lost in straights.

Men's 4.5 League
Carrying the local banner in the Men’s 4.5s is No.1 Seed Richard Wood of HPGCC, who has posted an impressive UTL record over four seasons. Since 2010, in 3.5 through 4.5 divisions, Wood’s match record stands at 26-1, that one loss a three-setter, coming in the regular season last summer. Wood went on to win the 4.0 Championship last summer in a three-setter as well.

Moved up to 4.5 for the first time this past Spring Season, Wood went 7-0 in the regular season and took out 20-season, UTL veteran Greg Natale out of Plantation Country Club, 6-4, 7-6 in the Semis of the Playoffs. In the Final Wood will face No.2 Seed David Lloyd of Venice, who also went undefeated this season. Wood is playing his fifth UTL season, all at the 4.5 level. This out to be a good one to watch!

Men's 5.0 League
Second-seeded Miguel Scheel, last summer’s UTL 4.5 Division Finalist, playing out of Bella Terra in Estero, went undefeated and is in the Semis of the Men’s 5.0. Showing his mental toughness, Scheel survived three three-setters in the regular season, winning the third set of each by the score of 6-4.

Scheel will play No.3 Seed Matthew Roszkowski, playing out of Rutenberg Park in Fort Myers, who is in his second overall UTL season. This is a rematch from the regular season, where in Week 6, Roszkowski lost 6-7, 3-6 to Scheel. This promises to be another competitive match. The winner will play either Tom Buzas or Mike Gough of Sarasota.

Last Words
Well it's about time to start getting ready for my watch tonight. Soon I'll know whether I'll be heading north this weekend, and whether I'll be eligible to play again in the upcoming Summer Season. You see, League Champions and Finalists are obliged to move up, and there is no "up" in our area. Win today and I'm out for certain. Lose and maybe I can play again. I'll fill you in after the weekend. 

Until then, there are 18 days left to sign up for the Summer Singles Season, 32 days for the the Summer Mixed, and 60 days for the Doubles. Put your game to the Ultimate test and get on board the UTL train. Game, set, match...T. A.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

West Takes Back Florida Cup

Notes: See below for results (Data compiled by Mark Taylor). Click here for more pics.

FL Cup in 2008
Sometimes expectations get in the way; don’t they? Well, recently I got a call to represent the West in the 9th Annual Florida Cup, a competitive event that theoretically pits the best of Florida’s West Coast players against the best of the East Coast. Having had a terrific experience representing the West back in 2008, I welcomed the opportunity to join the fray again.

Match Board in 2008
Things turned out to be a little different this time around. In ’08, I couldn’t speak highly enough of the event. From welcome to trophy presentation, it was a class event all the way. Case in point, all the matches were posted for players and spectators to view and players’ names were on cards on the courts where they played. Nice!

This time around, I didn’t know that my opponent wasn’t going to show until half an hour past my start time. I later spoke with him and he said that he had informed officials that he wouldn’t be able to attend since early that morning. And, I had to do research to find out who was playing whom when the matches had gotten underway. Needless to say I wasn’t too thrilled when the few spectators who had come to see me play had to settle for…much better players! LOL

Mike Manzella & Larry Turville
 I could go on, but nuff said. I’d rather talk about the fine job that Mike Manzella, director of tennis at the Waldorf, and his staff did in preparing the courts, and in handling a difficult situation, to include rain on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The Naples Grande at the Waldorf Astoria was a nice venue for the event, offering ample viewing for spectators and comfortable conditions for players.

Joe Rasgado
I could talk about the number of matches that were not played this year in contrast to ’08, but I’d rather talk about the tennis that was played. For example, the tough three-setter that David Vaughan (West) and Joe Rasgado played in the midday heat on Saturday in the 55s Division. 

David Vaughan
Joe took the first set 7-6, but David bounced back to take the second 6-4. It was all square at 2-2 when David’s empty light came on. He battled gamely the rest of the way, but fell 6-3 in the third. Now that’s what the Florida Cup is all about: battling in the sun, through the pain to earn a point for your team. And there were other such scuffles...

Ok, I said I wouldn’t but I can’t help it. In 2008 there were just three matches/points won by default. In this year’s contest, 15 points, 15 POINTS were gained through default! That’s a whopping 30% of the matches. Wow! I’m guessing that the rain had something to do with that number, but the East had difficulty fielding a team. Not a single match was played in the 80s (no East players), and only one player showed for the East in the 50s.

Jamie Feagan & Wife
In 2011, the number of defaults was just about half (8 matches) the number we had this year. The year before, there was 1 defaulted match. I'm not liking the trend folks. I suppose the good news for the West is, that of the 35 matches that were actually played, we won 20 of them. I guess we don’t need an asterisk next to the 34-16 victory after all.

Gary Clermont in '08 FL Cup
Despite the victory, I was somewhat saddened leaving the 2012 Florida Cup. An event that had been one of the highlights of my Florida tennis experience appeared to be singing its swansong. Is there a way to bring the shine back to the Cup, or is it tarnished beyond refurbishing? Is the Cup down 0-5, 0-40 in the third, and throwing in the towel, or is it ready to comeback like I managed to do against Gary Clermont in ’08? Sorry Gary had to sneak that in there (a wink & a smile).

I am convinced that I am not the only one who would like to see the event recover its cachet and relevance among Florida’s best players east and west. How about it USTA FL? Can some life be breathed into this potential tradition? Sure hope so! Thanks to the Waldorf's staff for hosting, and to Larry Turville for organizing. It's a tough job and glad somebody took it. I'm willing to get on board to assist with organizing next year if necessary. Game, set, match...T A

Nuggets from the event as shared by Mark Taylor, former Cup organizer:
  •  West wins for the 8th time in 9 attempts (34-16 largest margin of victory for the West)
  • Waldorf-Astoria Resort hosts Cup for the 1st time, city of Naples hosts Cup for the 7th time overall
  • West won doubles competition for the first time ever (6-4)
  • Teams combined to field 16 players who were first time Cup participants
  • West won the Sunday singles matches 17-3 (Lake, Bouquin, Carter only East victories)
  • Cup matches return to East coast in 2013 (PGA National, host facility Palm Beach Gardens)

The Results
35s (East won 3-2)
Jonathan Goldfarb
Diego Brunicardi (E) def. Jamie Feagan (W) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
Jonathan Goldfarb (E) def. David Robbins (W) 6-0, 6-0
Goldfarb/Brunicardi (E) def. Feagan/Robbins (W) 6-2, 6-4
West wins 2 singles matches via default

Andy Lake
40s (East won 4-1)
Andy Lake (E) def. Rhett Rollyson (W) 7-5, 6-4
Todd Schlorf (E) def. Mark Palus (W) 6-3, 6-3
Lake/Schlorf (E) def. Rollyson/Palus (W) 6-2, 4-6, 10-2
Andy Lake (E) def. Mark Palus (W) 6-2, 7-6
Rhett Rollyson (W) def. Todd Schlorf (E) 6-1, 6-4

45s (East Won 3-2)
Bob Wuhrman (E) def. Cliff Coleman (W) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
Lee Rosenthal (E) def. John Jerome (W) 6-2, 6-1
Wuhrman/Rosenthal (E) def. Coleman/Jerome (W) 6-4, 6-4
Cliff Coleman (W) def. Lee Rosenthal (E) 6-4, 6-4
John Jerome (W) def. Bob Wuhrman (E) 6-1, 6-3

Roberto Saad 
50s (West won 5-0)
Roberto Saad (W) def. Bob Johnson (E) 6-1, 6-3
TA Niles (W) def. Bob Johnson (E) 6-2, 6-4
West wins 2 singles matches and doubles match via default

55's (West won 4-1)
Warren Eber- West 55s Captain
Joe Rasgado (E) def. David Vaughn (W) 7-6, 4-6, 6-3
Warren Eber (W) def. Bill Forray (E) 6-4, 6-2
Peter Redpath (W) def. Bill Forray (E) 7-5, 2-6, 2-1 ret.
Warren Eber (W) def. Jared Chase (E) 6-2, 6-0
West wins doubles match via default
Larry Turville- Event Organizer
& West 60s Captain
60s (West won 3-2)
Larry Turville (W) def. Joe Bouquin (E) 6-2, 6-2
Jeff Feldman (E) def. Phil Landauer (W) 7-6, 4-6, 6-3
Turville/Landauer (W) def. Bouquin/Feldman (E) 8-2 (pro set)
Joe Bouquin (E) def. Steve Shortridge (W) 6-1, 6-0
Larry Turville (W) def. Jeff Feldman (E) 6-1, 6-0

65s (West won 5-0)
Larry Albritton
Larry Albritton (W) def. Allan Brown (E) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Pedro Mena (W) def. Bob Childers (E) 6-3, 6-1
Larry Albritton/Mike Melnick (W) def. Bob Childers/Allan Brown (E) 3-2 ret.
West wins 2 singles matches via default

70s (East won 3-2)
Fred Drilling
Fred Drilling (W) def. Alan Carter (E) 1-6, 7-6, 6-1
Rudy Hernando (E) def. Joe Bachmann (W) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
Hernando/Carter (E) def. Fred Farzanegan/Drilling (W) 8-5 (pro set)
Alan Carter (E) def. Fred Farzanegan (W) 6-3, 6-2
Fred Drilling (W) def. Rudy Hernando (E) 6-1, 6-2

75s (West won 5-0)
Gordon Hammes
Elmer Mangrum (W) def. Mike Logan (E) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
Gordon Hammes (W) def. Al Cohen (E) 6-2, 6-2
Gordon Hammes (W) def. Mike Logan (E) 6-0, 6-1
West wins 1 singles match and doubles match via default

80s (West won 5-0)
West wins 5 matches via default