Monday, October 29, 2012

2012- 2013 USPTA Pro League Season Debuts at Palmira

Palmira Golf & Country Club proved to be a terrific venue for the Fort Myers Ritzman Tennis USPTA Pro League to open the 2012 - 2013 Season. Host Kenny Gibson (Tennis Director) and his staff greeted the hundreds of enthusiastic fans who descended upon the well-manicured grounds. The fans generated more than enough buzz and excitement to make me wish I had been in the lineup.

Scott Harrignton & Jim Katterfield pose with
Paul Pignone of Boston Retirement Advisors
and event host Kenny Gibson
For those who haven’t yet been informed, there’s a new format this season, with six teams, instead of four, vying for Pro League honors. Team competition will include three men’s doubles (No.1 through No.3 doubles) and one mixed doubles match. Click here for Team Rosters, League Standings, and Match Schedule.  A tiebreak set (first to 10 points, AKA super-tiebreak) is used if there are split sets in a match.

The scoring works as follows: One point is gained for every set won. Teams using substitutes only get half a point for each set won. So for example, if Joe and Jim beat Bob and Bill in straight sets, Joe and Jim get two points and Bob and Bill get zero. If Joe and Jim win in three sets, then they get two points and Bob and Bill get one. However, if Joe is playing with a sub, his team will only get half a point per set, so instead of two points, his team would only get one. A team cannot use two subs on the same court. I hope that brings you up to speed. Now on to last Friday’s action…

Team Babolat (7) versus Boston Retirement Advisors (3.5)
Erica Cossairt & Armor Persons of Babolat
Captain Jeff Diggs’ Team Babolat jumped out to a really nice start, taking three of the four matches against Scott Harrington’s Boston Retirement Advisors (BRA). Tyler Owens continued his winning ways at first doubles, teaming with Deny Rager to dispatch Scott and Jared Kalpin in straight sets. 

Jim Katterfield & Susie Gibson raffle goodies
At second doubles, Jeff and John Jerome took a close three-setter from League Commissioner Jim Katterfield and my ex-partner Joel Hampton.

Mike Barnes & Paul D'Amico of BRA
On Court 3, Paul D’Amico and Mike Barnes posted the only win for BRA, edging Mark Owens and Toni Halski in three. On the Mixed Doubles court, Armor Persons of Breckenridge and Erica Cossairt of Cape Coral Racquet Club squeaked by Bob Green of Pelican Preserve and Christie Pollen (subbing for Kim Jones of The Landings) in another third-set super-tiebreak.

Johnny Malloy’s (5) versus University Grill (2)
Mike Curran & Elliot Debolt of JM
The points in the matchup between Mike Curran’s (Gulf Harbour) Johnny Malloy’s (JM) and Mike Lawver’s (Heritage Palms) University Grill (UG) were a bit more even, but JM also took three of four courts. 

Larry Gagnon & Oliver Stenger of JM
Curran and Elliot Debolt (The Vines) bombed their way through Matt Maloney of Punta Gorda Club and Xander Woodford (sub) in straight sets on Court 1, and Larry Gagnon (Plantation) and Oliver Stenger (Park Meadow) did the same to Mark Drons and Terry See on Court 3. 

John Ramsey & Sandy Miller
JM took the mixed doubles match in straight sets as well, when John Ramsey (Kelly Greens) and Sandy Miller (sub) beat Tony Martin (Heritage Bay) and Carolyn Lawver (Heritage Palms). 

Mike Lawver & Patrick Kangwa of UG
Captain Lawver (Heritage Palms) teamed with Patrick Kangwa (Rapallo) to defeat Todd Wise (Legends) and Kevin Kearns in straight sets to salvage a win for UG.

Remax (5) versus Gateway Dental (2)
Frank Fourgeau & Corey Knapp of Remax
Winning three of four matches was the theme of the day, and Remax won three of the four matches against Gateway Dental (GD) as well. Remax Captain Frank Fourgeau (Gulf Harbour) and partner Corey Knapp started things off with a straight-set win over my partner Anthony Hatori (Vasari) and my sub Steve Shreiner (thanks for filling in Steve!) at second doubles. 

Dave Dooley & Tom Fisher of Remax
On Court 3, Dave Dooley (Shadow Wood) and Tom Fisher (sub) downed Alex Hermeto (Gateway) and Steve Shortridge (Colonial) in straight sets for another Remax victory.

Ryan Sherry & Shawn Hedrick of GD
GD captain Shawn Hedrick (The Strand) and Pro League newcomer Ryan Sherry ended Manuel Encalada’s (Cascades) undefeated streak, beating him and Luke Andreae (Punta Gorda Club) in straight sets on Court 1. 

Christie Bradley & Dan Moenning of Remax
Dan Moenning (Punta Gorda Club) and Christie Bradley (Sanctuary) rounded out the Remax wins with a straight-set victory over Jeff Timmer (Colonial) and Kerry Kendrick (Casa Ybel).

The action moves to Gulf Harbour this Friday, November 2, at 4pm. League leading Team Babolat takes on Gateway Dental, fourth-place BRA will face fifth-place UG, and JM and Remax, tied for second, will go head-to-head. The Gulf Harbour venue is always a rocking stop on the Pro League Tour, and I’ll be back in the lineup, so hope to see you there. Click here for additional pictures at Palmira.

 Pro League Standings

Jersey Color
Johnny Malloy’s
Lime Green
Carolina Blue
Boston Retirement Advisors
Tropical Blue
University Grill
Gateway Dental

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Landings Grand Prix Review

This post is book length, so I've decided to use "Chapter" headings :). It should make some good bedtime reading. Thanks to Virgil Graves and Steph for their photographic contributions, and to the McClarys, Dances, DeSousas, Blythes, Sue Weiss, Ted Watrous, Nancy Sheppard and the many others who came out in support! Click here for additional photos of the event. 

Home Cooking
The USPTA Florida Fast Dry 10-S Supply Grand Prix got underway at The Landings with wins for the home team when Denny Rager of Lely got past Mike Baldwin of Weston Hills Country Club 6-2, 6-2, and 

Luke Andreae
Luke Andreae of Punta Gorda posted a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jeff Solomon, a quality player from Cape Coral, in the Men’s 35 Singles. Armor Person also scored one for the home team when he downed Keith Soifer of Coconut Creek 6-1, 6-1 in the Men’s 50 Singles.

In the home-versus-home matches, Bob Green of Pelican Preserve took out Charles Van Middlesworth of Gateway 6-1, 6-2, and Terry See of Cypress Lake fell to Steve Shortridge of Colonial, 6-2, 6-1, both in the Men’s 60 Singles. 

John Jerome
John Jerome of Wildcat Run dropped a tight one to Johann Saurbier of Naples, 2-6, 6-4, 1(6), in the Men’s 45 Singles. Also in the 45s, MAD Academy general, Mark Davis, took a tumble in the Men’s 45 Singles, falling to Adam Zastempowski of Nokomis, 1-6, 1-6.

Men’s Open
Luis Duco
The big hitters in the Men’s Open Division took to the courts late Friday, and local Pro Leaguer Tyler Owens of Fiddlesticks fell to Luis Duco of Weston 6-3, 6-4, and Matt Maloney of Punta Gorda, a newcomer to Pro League this season, was out-dueled by Franco Mata (3) of Naples, 6-0, 6-1. 

Tye Myers
In addition, Top-Seed, Tye Myers of Naples rolled over James Roesch of Melbourne, 6-3, 6-0, and second-seeded Erik Turnquist of Winter Haven eliminated Mike Baugh of Captiva.

Women’s 45 & Mixed Doubles
Chandler Kleinpeter & Paul D'Amico
congratulate Erica Cossairt & Dave Rowat
Most of the tournament action took place on Day 2. The women began play on Saturday, and Erica Cossairt of Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC) advanced easily over Karleen Dawson of Oakland, Florida, 6-0, 6-0. Erica then teamed with Dave Rowat, also of CCRC, to edge tourney host, Paul D’Amico and Chandler Kleinpeter of The Forest, 6-2, 7-5 in the Mixed Open Doubles.

Carolyn Franca
In the best match of the women’s events, Carolyn Franca (1) edged Elizabeth Burger, 6-4, 7-5. After her victory in Singles, Franca partnered with Gewan Maharaj in Mixed 40 Doubles to ease past Dawson and Keith Soifer of Coconut Creek, 6-0, 6-0.

Men’s Open
Erik Turnquist
In the Men’s Open semis, Tye Myers continued to cruise, downing Luis Duco 6-0, 6-3, but Turnquist faced a determined Franco Mata in his semi and had to retire at 0-4 in the third set, after splitting the first two 7-5, 4-6. 

Franco Mata
Despite the tourney format of tiebreak-set for the third, the two, at the urging of the crowd, agreed to play a third set with the blessing of tourney director Paul D’Amico. Turnquist might be regretting that decision now!

Men’s 35
Dave Rowat
The Men’s 35 Singles produced a solid candidate for “Match of the Day” when Rowat faced Rager in the semis. These two were playing on the court behind me, and I spent as much time watching their match as I did playing mine. Well, maybe not quite as much, but it was entertaining!

Denny Rager
The two had never faced each other before, and I thing Dave caught Denny a bit by surprise, and took the first set 6-4. But Denny is nothing if not cagey, and he made the necessary adjustments and won the second 6-1. The tiebreak was also close with Dave finally winning it 10-7.

Men’s 45
Jack Steyn
In the Men’s 45s, No.2 Seed Jack Steyn of Bradenton saw his first action, and passed a stiff test from Zastempowski, winning 7-5, 6-3. Fortunately for Saurbier, Horacio Rearte (the favorite in the 45s) was a no-show, so Saurbier’s tough three-setter on Day 1 was enough to get him to the final.

Men’s 50 
Jeff Davis
In my division, the Men’s 50s, top-seeded Jeff Davis did what he typically does, he posted a score (6-1, 6-1) against Don Caprio of Osprey that suggested the match was easy, but the action on the court said otherwise. Don appeared to be in the match the entire way, and playing on the adjacent court, I couldn’t help peaking at the on-court parrying. In the end, Jeff left Don, much the way he left me the following day, snuggling with ice bags and wondering how that score ended being so lopsided.

Armor Persons
I had the good fortune of playing my buddy Armor Persons, who started the first set serving lights out and I had all I could handle to stay in it. I’m not sure what happened at 3-3 (Armor says the balls got heavy), but I ended up taking the set 6-3. 

Paula Barry & Vivian Landis
Armor didn’t serve quite as well in the second set and I took that one 6-1. It was a pleasure seeing Paula Barry and Vivian Landis from The Hideaway in the stands for that one.

Men’s 60
No. 2 Seed Fred Drilling made his tourney debut in the Men’s 60s on Saturday, and Steve Shortridge gave him all he could handle…in the first set. Steve battled but lost the first set, 5-7, and swallowed a crusty bagel in the second.  

Steve Shortridge
Just for a little perspective, although Fred is going to be 70 in December, he moves like he’s 45. Just last month, he won the Singles and Doubles titles in the Men’s 70 USTA National Clay Court Championship in Pinehurst, NC, and earlier in the month, made it to the final of the ITF World Individual Championships in Croatia. Yep, he can play!

Bob Green
While Fred and Steve were doing their thing, No.1 Seed Gewan Maharaj jumped into the fray against Bob Green, and posted a convincing 6-0, 6-2 win. There is a very good reason why Gewan was seeded one, and that’s because he, too, can flat out play. I believe he has won every Grand Prix 60 Singles event he has entered this season. But don’t quote me on that…

Men's Open Doubles
Matt Maloney & Luke Andreae
The Doubles also got underway on Day 2, and the Open Doubles was the most competitive event of the weekend. There were only four matches played over the two days, but three of those went to third-set super-tiebreaks.
Luis Duco & James Roesch

In the first match played, Luis Duco and James Roesch scraped by Luke Andreae and Matt Maloney 6-2, 3-6, 1(10). Duco and Roesch ran into Tyler Owens and Scott Harrington later that afternoon, and this time it was Tyler and Scott who emerged with the 3-6, 7-6(2), 1(6) victory.

Men’s 40 Doubles 
John Koahou & Anthony Hatori
The Men’s 40 Doubles also started with a bang, with Anthony Hatori (my Pro League partner) and John Koahou of Port St. Lucie, eclipsing Don Caprio and Adam Zastempowski 6-7, 6-4, 1(8). The winners of the earlier nail-biter didn’t fare well in their second match again, as Anthony and John fell to top-seeds Jeff Diggs and Kevin Kearns, 6-4, 6-4.

Jeff Solomon & Johann Saurbier
Meanwhile, on the other half of the 40 Doubles draw, Johann Saurbier and Jeff Solomon, after dispatching Alex Hermeto of Gateway and John Ramsey of Kelly Greens (6-2, 6-1), toppled No.2 Seeds Jack Steyn and Mike Baldwin, 6-4, 6-3.

Men’s 50 Doubles 
T. A. & Jim Katterfield
There was much less drama in the Men’s 50 Doubles, as Jim Katterfield and I (who, by the way, remain undefeated as a team) defeated Steve Shortridge and Jeff Timmer of Colonial 6-0, 6-4 in the final.

Mixed 40 Doubles 
John Ramsey & Elizabeth Ramsey 
The Mixed 40 Doubles closed out the action on Saturday, when Kerry Kendrick of Casa Ybel and I, seeded one, beat Elizabeth Burger and John Ramsey, 6-0, 6-4. 

Dave Peirson & Erica Cossairt
The Sunday morning Pro-Am (click here for pics) is usually one of the highlights of the Grand Prix Circuit events, and this time was no exception. Sixteen local tennis lovers teamed up with 16 pros for some friendly competition. When the rounds were completed, the team of Dave Peirson and Erica Cossairt had claimed the Pro-Am.

Women’s 45
Erica Cossairt
Speaking of Erica Cossairt, in the Women’s 45s, she proved to be the ultimate warrior. After having won the first set 6-4 and going up 4-3 against Carolyn FrancaErica had to take an injury timeout for cramps. After the timeout, she dispensed with the long rallies and aggressively closed out the final set, 6-3.

Men’s Open
Tye Myers
As one might imagine, the Men’s Open Final produced the biggest fireworks of the weekend…in more ways than one. The quality of the tennis played by Tye Myers and Franco Mata was all the audience could ask for. However, the quality of the match was somewhat marred by Franco’s “helicopter,” uh, I mean racquet, flying through the air, and the smashing display of poor sportsmanship at the end of the match, as Franco’s racquet was unceremoniously introduced to the court…multiple times! In any event, Myers won the final 6-2, 6-4, coming from 1-4 down in the final set.

Professional Embarrassment 
Exhibit A
Perhaps I was the only one embarrassed, but that display was not indicative of how USPTA Professionals typically behave, and I hope the crowd noted that from the behavior of the other players in the event. I absolutely understand how Franco felt- I wanted to toss my racquet in frustration a few times- but professionalism must rule at an event so well run by Paul, his staff, and the volunteers.

Men’s 35
Milos Vasovic
The Men’s 35 final was somewhat anticlimactic, as Dave Rowat had a tough time recovering from his battle with Denny the previous day. Milos Vasovic, the Grand Prix Division Leader, took the final 6-0, 6-3.

Men’s 45
Johann Saurbier
Johann Saurbier took the Men’s 45 title in his second consecutive super-tiebreak, overcoming the game effort from Jack Steyn to win it, 6-1, 4-6, 1(9), after being down several match points.

Men’s 50
Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis proved to be the class of the Men’s 50s, as he trounced me 6-1, 6-2. It was the most competitive 6-1, 6-2 drubbing I can remember experiencing. I believe Jeff made about six unforced errors the entire match, and four of those came late in the final set.

Men’s 60
Gewan Maharaj
Gewan Maharaj continued to put distance between himself and the rest of the Grand Prix competitors in the 60s when he got past Fred Drilling, 7-5, 6-3. Chances are that Gewan will finish the season atop the 60s rankings.

Men’s Open Doubles
Tyler Owens & Scott Harrington
As with the Open Singles, the Men’s Open Doubles offered the crowd some stellar play and a dramatic climax to the event. Singles Finalists, Tye Myers and Franco Mata teamed up to take on Tyler Owens and Scott Harrington. As was the case throughout the event, the winner of a super-tiebreak in a previous round, in this case Tyler and Scott, fell in the subsequent round. Myers and Mata posted a 6-1, 3-6, 1(7) victory.

Men’s 40 Doubles
Kevin Kearns & Jeff Diggs
In the Men’s 40 Doubles Johann Saurbier was going for his third straight super-tiebreak victory when he and partner Jeff Solomon split sets with top-seeded Jeff Diggs and Kevin Kearns. It was not to be this day, as Jeff and Kevin won the match 6-3, 5-7, 1(7). Given Saurbier’s three-tiebreak endeavor, he earned “Most Dramatic Performer” honors of the weekend.

Men’s 60 Doubles
Terry See
The Men’s 60 Doubles Final provided the spectators plenty of tennis drama as well. In that one, Larry Gagnon of Plantation and Terry See took the first set from Fred Drilling and Spike Gonzales of Naples, 6-1. However, Fred and Spike came back to take the second 6-4, and outlasted Larry and Terry 10-8 in the super-tiebreak.

Mixed Open Doubles
Alejandra Aguilar & Tye Myers
After winning the Pro-Am first thing in the a.m., then taking the Women’s 45s a bit later, Erica Cossairt went for the triple in Mixed Open Doubles with Dave Rowat. The phrase, “two out of three ain’t bad” applied to Erica on Sunday, as Tye Myers completed his triple, by adding the Mixed Open Doubles title to his Men’s Open Singles and Doubles wins. He and partner Alejandra Aguilar had little trouble, winning 6-1, 6-1.

Mixed 40 Doubles
Kerry Kendrick
The Mixed 40 Doubles went to Kerry Kendrick and me, as we took on a tired Carolyn Franca (I don’t think she even ate after her singles match!) and Gewan Maharaj, who had had a tough one himself with Fred Drilling. After a rocky start (down 0-3), Kerry and I pulled it together to take the first 7-5, and then hung on to win the second set 6-2. I’ve got to credit that win to Kerry’s solid returning.

Major Contributions
Paul & Anna Straub, Minnetta Gilkson,
Pat Cunningham, Steph & Pete Sherman
and Grover Moore
As always, with any event like the one hosted by The Landings Yacht, Golf & Tennis Club this past weekend, there have to be a lot of contributors to make it work. The volunteers at the Landings, the tourney officials, and event sponsors helped make it a special weekend.

Director Paul D'Amico running show with
Landings Head Pro Kim Jones
In addition to the players’ party at, and courtesy of, the Lazy Flamingo and Welch Tennis, complimentary lunch was served for players on Saturday as well, courtesy of your local USPTA Pro League. 
Mike Baldwin- Grand Prix Chairman
Paul D’Amico (tournament director), and Mike Baldwin (Grand Prix Chair) proved to be a terrific team arranging and rearranging draws to accommodate players’ work schedules and circumstances. 

In addition to our much appreciated Grand Prix sponsors, Fast Dry Courts, 10-S Tennis Supply, The Wimbledon Experience, Welch Tennis Courts, Stan Oley Tennis Equipment, Giliberti, Inc., and USTA Florida, a number of local entities helped foot the bill. 

Steph with Lora Ulrich of New You Lifestyle
Those entities included: New You Lifestyle (with Lora Ulrich on site providing samples) and advice; First Watch; USPTA Pro League, and Lee County Sports Authority. Thanks folks! It doesn’t happen without you.