I’ve heard it said that quality is more important than quantity, and this weekend’s Grand Prix at The Landings Yacht, Golf &Tennis Club is definitely more quality than quantity. The draws are small, but there are some top level players sprinkled throughout the various draws.
In the Men’s Open Division, three of the top four players in the Grand Prix Open Division Rankings are among the 11 players in the draw. Tye Myers of Naples is the top seed, despite being ranked No.3 in the rankings, and Eric Turnquist of Winter Haven, the top-ranked player in the Open Division is seeded No.2. Franco Mata of Naples, a former USPTA National Clay Court Open Champion, and Tyler Owens of Fort Myers, are seeded third and fourth respectively. All of the above take to the courts at 5:30pm Friday (tomorrow).
The Men’s 35 Division fielded a draw of seven players, but among those are division leader Milos Vasovic of Melbourne and Kam Kuchta of Boynton Beach, who is second in the standings. There are a few local players worthy of coming out to see in this division, including Denny Rager of Fort Myers, Director of Tennis at Lely and Dave Rowat who teaches at Cape Coral Racquet Club. Pro League favorite from Punta Gorda, Luke Andreae will also battle in this division. All but the top seed will play at 5pm tomorrow.
One of the more distinguished players in the event, Horacio Rearte of Delray Beach, is the top seed in the Men’s 45s. Rearte is the rankings-leader in his division, has won multiple National Clay Court Championships, and is definitely the player to beat in this draw. If the rankings are any indication, and Rearte is to be challenged, it is likely to come from No.2 Seed Jack Steyn, fourth in the rankings or Johann Saurbier who is ranked 6th. Local MAD Academy director, Mark Davis may just be the surprise in the draw. Fort Myers pro-leaguer, John Jerome of Wildcat Run will also be contesting this division. The action begins at tomorrow at 3pm in the 45s.
The headliner and top seed in the small (five players) Men’s 50 draw is Jeff Davis of Treasure Island. Jeff is a former USTA Florida Player of the Year, USPTA Player of the Year, and USTA Florida Men’s 50s No.1. In addition, Jeff has been ranked in the top ten of both the USTA and ITF Singles Rankings. I’m seeded second, and hope to make it to a finals matchup with Jeff. We will both have to get past an opponent to reach such a showdown. Armor Persons of Fort Myers, and Breckenridge Country Club will take on Keith Soifer of Coconut Creek in his first match at 3pm tomorrow, and I will face the winner at 10am on Saturday. Jeff’s first match will also be Saturday at 10am.
The Men’s 60s feature the top-ranked player in standings, No.1 Seed Gewan Maharaj of Tampa, and second-seeded Fred Drilling of Estero, a perennial USA team member for international competition. Although Maharaj has dominated the Grand Prix 60s and Drilling now competes primarily in USTA 70s, Drilling has won National Championships on grass, and clay, and has been ranked No.1 in the ITF World Rankings. If these two hold their seeding, the final ought to be a doozy. Local players in the 60s draw include Terry See of Cypress Lake, Steve Shortridge of Colonial, Bob Green of Pelican Preserve, and Charles Van Middlesworth of Gateway. The locals are all scheduled for play at 3pm tomorrow.
As for the ladies, two locals, Carly Carpenter of Fort Myers Racquet Club and Chandler Kleinpeter of The Forest will play the only match in the Women’s Open Division on Sunday at 11am. The Women’s 45s has a slightly more substantial draw with five women vying for the title. Carolyn Franca of Tampa, the fourth-ranked player in the Grand Prix 45 rankings, is seeded No.1, and Erica Cossairt of Cape Coral Racquet Club is the two-seed.
Christie Bradley of The Santuary on Sanibel is unseeded, but you shouldn’t be surprised to see her in the final. If Christie gets past her first opponent tomorrow at 3pm, she will take on the top seed on Saturday at noon. Erica’s first match will be on Saturday at noon as well.
Well that’s the lineup for the opening matches. Doubles will begin on Saturday. Drop by the Landings tomorrow and check out your local pros in action, as well as some heavy hitters from around the State. Game, set, match…T. A.