INTRODUCTIONThis 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 Franca, Erica 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
|Paul & Anna Straub, Minnetta Gilkson, |
Pat Cunningham, Steph & Pete Shermanand 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.