Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oceanside Rides Grand Prix Wave

Greg Wheaton (50 Champ) & 
T. A. Niles (Finalist)
The USPTA Florida Fast-Dry & 10-S Supply 2012 Grand Prix Circuit stop at Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach was certainly worth the four hour trip across the State, despite my humbling loss in the final to Greg Wheaton, whom I must call my nemesis after three consecutive losses. It had been a while since we played, and it was good to see Greg back out on the court. 
That’s one of the tremendous positives about playing the Grand Prix: you get to rekindle old rivalries as well as friendships at these events. I hadn’t seen Denny Rager play singles in some time, despite the fact that we live only a few miles apart. I saw Steve Shortridge, another neighboring pro, look like he was just about out of gas against Vishnu Maharaj. Shortridge out of gas? Surely that’s worth a trip across the State! 
Barbara Manne & Steve Shortridge

All kidding aside, the venue, as usual was terrific. Mike Sanders, his staff, and the always-smiling volunteers at Oceanside did the usual bang-up job that the directors and staffs usually do at the Grand Prix stops. Despite the weather, the courts were as playable as any I’ve encountered this season, and the venue was only about a mile, if that, from the beach. It was a good combination.

Jeff Cohen & Jim Bryan
Although I missed playing the Pro-Am (click here for photos), it was still one of the highlights of the event for me. Watching the members revel in the on-court interaction with USPTA professionals, most of whom appear just as thrilled as the members, is really a good time for someone who enjoys our game as much as I do. Hopefully the participants enjoyed it as much as they seemed to.  

Milos Vasovic & Mike Sanders
Before moving on to the tournament results, I need to acknowledge and thank the event sponsors on behalf of all the USPTA professionals who participated, Mike Sanders and his staff, and the members, some of whom were also sponsors, who participated. A number of local sponsors contributed to the Circuit stop, in addition to the usual sponsors that make the circuit possible: Fast-Dry Courts, 10-S Supply, USTA Florida, Welch Tennis, Stan Oley Tennis Equipment, and The Wimbledon Experience.

Generous Sponsors
The list of businesses and individuals who contributed to making the Oceanside stop a success is far too long to layout here, but Platinum Sponsor, S. R. Perrott, Inc. and Gold Sponsor, Mr. Wich Deli, along with Silver Sponsors Joe and Lisa Mirante, Daytona Foot and Ankle Specialists, Gamma High Voltage, and Daytona Mitsubishi-Kia are among the biggest contributors to the event’s success.

Paolo Barros & Joe Mirante
Asked about his three-year involvement as a sponsor for the Oceanside Grand Prix venue, Joe Mirante replied, “The USTPA event has been a great event for Oceanside. It's thrilling to be an intimate observer of professional tennis. What's even better than observing the pro's skills is to enjoy their love of the game and generous teaching in the pro-am and clinics. I will continue to be an enthusiastic sponsor of the event. Our pro Mike Sanders has done our club a great service in orchestrating this tournament.” With committed members like the Mirantes, the Oceanside event is likely to be a mainstay on the circuit for some time to come. 

Tourney Results

Men’s Open
Julien Link (Champ) & Alex Henderson (Finalist)
Winner of the Men’s Open, Julien Link, loves to hit tennis balls and I think he loves to grind opponents into the dirt. He did precisely that to Alex Henderson in the final, after wearing down James Roesch, his previous opponent. Link moved into third place in the Grand Prix standings, behind Eric Turnquist (1) and Paolo Barros (2). Neither Turnquist nor Barros played singles, but Barros did play doubles, losing in the semis to Denny Rager and Milos Vasovic.  Rager and Vasovic faced Link and Kuchta in the Open Doubles final, but the match was called due to rain after sets were split.   

Men’s 35s
Kam Kuchta (Finalist) & Milos Vasovic (Champ)
Speaking of Milos Vasovic, he was the Grand Prix points-leader of the Men’s 35s, coming in to the event, and he left with an even greater lead over Kam Kuchta, the player in second place in the Division. The two played in the final, and Kam got the early break in the first set, but Milos fought back to even things up. Milos eventually won two grueling tiebreaks to claim the win. Already holding a 200-point lead in the Division, Milos’ victory padded his lead by another 60 points. He will be tough to catch the rest of the way.

Men’s 45s & 40s
Jack Steyn (Finalist) &
Jeff Cohen (Champ)
Jeff Cohen, who was sitting in second place in the Men’s 45s prior to the event, returned to action and resumed his winning ways, downing Jack Steyn and Stan Oley in round robin action to bag another Grand Prix championship. Cohen moved into first place in the standings, ahead of Horacio Rearte, who did not play. There were no 45s Doubles, but Brad Minns and Stan Oley downed Michael Sanders and John Hudson, 6-2, 6-2, to win the 40s Doubles.

Men’s 50s
After a hiatus from the Grand Prix Circuit, Greg Wheaton returned to the courts and knocked off Men’s 50 Grand Prix points-leader T. A. Niles in a third-set super-tiebreak. After winning the first set 6-3, Wheaton lost the second 2-6, but came back to win 10-7 after being down 5-7 in the breaker. Despite having played just the one event, Wheaton’s win moves him into second place in the rankings. Wheaton teamed with Dave Cordrey to claim the doubles title as well, downing Arup Dutta and I, 6-1, 6-2. I definitely owe Arup one for my odious performance in that one! Sorry Arup.

Men’s 60s
Gewan (Champ) & Vishnu (Finalist) Maharaj
Gewan Maharaj continued his domination of the Men’s 60s, but despite Gewan’s event win, his finals opponent, brother Vishnu Maharaj, is in line for major kudos. Vishnu, who hasn’t played a Grand Prix event in some time, won his first two matches in third-set super-tiebreaks, and then took Gewan to a tiebreak in the first set of the final. With his win, Gewan extended his points lead over Steve Shortridge, who climbed in the standings to second-place by virtue of his semifinal finish. 

Women’s 45s
Liz Burger (2nd), Carolyn Franca (Champ),
Michelle Maharaj, & Mike Sanders 
The only women’s event held was Women’s 45s Singles, and Carolyn Franca took advantage of the absence of the higher ranked players in the Division and some gutty play in her matches to take over the Division lead. Franca survived a tough test against Elizabeth Burger, winning 4-6, 6-1, 1-0, and cruised against Michelle Maharaj, 6-1, 6-0. The win moves Franca 30 points ahead of Julie Farina, the former points-leader.

Mixed Doubles

Gewan Maharaj & Carolyn Franca (Champs)
Franca also teamed with Gewan Maharaj to complete the double for them both, by winning the 40s Mixed event. Franca and Maharaj faced Elizabeth Burger and Dru Ackert in the final, winning 6-4, 6-0.

Next Grand Prix Stop
The Next stop on the USPTA Florida Fast-Dry & 10-S Supply 2012 Grand Prix Circuit will be at The Landings Yacht, Golf & Tennis Club in Fort Myers, October 19 - 21. Landings Tennis Director Paul D’Amico and his staff did a smoking job of hosting the Florida Open, (a national junior event) this summer, and I suspect the same will apply to the Grand Prix stop.

Host-A-Pro Program
To make things as easy and inviting as possible for USPTA pros around the State to play if they have any interest, USPTA District 14 professionals are initiating a “Host-A-Pro” program. Players who are interested in being hosted by a local professional or tennis aficionado should contact T. A. Niles at or 407-466-4652. Hope to see you there!

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