So, I have been to a few USPTA Grand Prix Masters events, but the 2012 USPTA Florida Fast Dry/10-S Tennis Supply Grand Prix Circuit Masters at Williams Island Tennis Club, in Aventura, December 8-9, has my vote for the best I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Don’t get me wrong, they all have been outstanding events, but this one stands out for me.
|Leandro Gutierrez, Fred Stolle, |
& Carlos Triana
The event got off to an excellent start, when Carlos Triana and his staff produced 60 players for the Player Clinic. I was a little concerned about doing the clinic before playing singles and doubles in the kind of shape I’m in, but I believe the clinic participants inspired me.
|T. A. Does Overhead Clinic|
Bantering on court with the “Maddies” (Marcus and Zern) was a blast. Harvey Pollack and José Klahr were too fun to teach, and no one was more
serious about learning something at the clinic than Leila Gorra…unless of course it was Carime Muvdi or Monica Rangel. All in all, the clinic was more than worth the energy expended that first morning.
|Mary Ellen, Steph, Katman at Party|
The rest of the day went well for me as well, and I’ll get to the tennis eventually, but to those who actually made it, how sweet was the player party!
Would I be exaggerating to say those shrimp were almost as big as my fist? And how good were the baked hors d’oeuvres, or the ribs, the salmon, etc?
|Anthony Cammarano & Rick Oswald|
Folks, the spread put out by Anthony Cammarano, Williams Island Director of Food and Beverage, and his staff was splendid. The outdoor, evening
setting on the patio was ideal for some old-fashioned camaraderie and table hopping after dinner. Oh, before I forget, those lunchtime tacos were “da bomb” as well!
|Carlos Triana & Fred Stolle|
So the first day was an unqualified smash hit for me: great clinic, two match wins, terrific lunch and dinner, and Carlos even threw in a local celebrity: Fred Stolle…what more could one ask for?
|T. A. & José Klahr|
The following day was outstanding as well, and the Williams Island members contributed greatly to that, starting the day off beautifully with the Pro Am.
|T. A. & José|
I played in the Blue Flight and I’m still marveling at José Klahr’s “refuse to lose” attitude. Unfortunately for José, he played his first round with me and I think that cost him the top prize by one game. Sorry José!
|Jeff Diggs & Harvey Spear|
I believe Harvey Spear came out on top of our group. I can’t speak for the other groups, but our group had a good time with the friendly competition.
|Jeff Diggs & Harvey Spear|
As you all know, neither the Masters, nor the Grand Prix Circuit would happen if it weren’t for some very important entities. First and foremost, the Circuit sponsors and the individual event sponsors are the life-blood of the Grand Prix.
Among the Circuit sponsors are Title Sponsor Fast Dry Courts (Racquet Sports Industry Magazine’s "Tennis Court Builder/Contractor of the Year" 2005), 10-S Tennis Supply (a Fast Dry Courts affiliate and one of the largest wholesale distributor of tennis court equipment, materials and supplies in the U.S!),
USTA Florida (the Florida section of the Nation’s sanctioning body for tennis, the USTA); Welch Tennis (one of the largest clay-court construction firms in the world, and former recipient (2001) of Tennis Industry Magazine’s “Court Builder of the Year”); Giliberti, Inc. (a research, development & manufacturing company for vehicles in the airline, golf, tennis, and emergency medical services industries);
|Stan Oley & John Morales|
Stan Oley Tennis Equipment Sales and Service, Inc. (Playmate Ball Machine's Florida Authorized Sales and Service Center since 1997); and The Wimbledon Experience (the official provider of Wimbledon overseas tours).
The clubs that host the Grand Prix events usually find support in their communities, and Williams Island was certainly no exception. As was the case with the Williams Island event itself, the sponsorship, too, was worthy of Masters level designation.
|Anthony Quinones of Lehman in Black|
|Jeneffer Soto, Anthony Quinones|
& Juliet Bryan
Not only did Lehman Auto World provide vehicles as a backdrop to event activities, Anthony Quiñones served as their representative on site both days. He shared our table at dinner and it was a pleasure chatting with him. I believe he was rewarded for his attendance on Day Two; right Tony (wink)?
|Jose Klahr sandwiched by |
Mike Baldwin & Rod White on left,
Carlos Triana & Anthony Cammarano
Financial support is always greatly appreciated, but when an event sponsor participates, it adds something to event. The aforementioned José Klahr, of Klahr Team Realty, was one such sponsor. José spent the entire two days playing, chatting, taking photos, and just having a good time.
Other key sponsors that helped make things happen at Williams Island include Parksman Parking (a full service Valet and Self Parking Management Company, specializing in the high rise luxury condominium market, service retail centers, as well as high end restaurant locations and hotels),
Organic Brewery of Hollywood (a restaurant featuring an on-site brewery and a made-from-scratch American menu) and Wells Fargo Bank (which promotes itself as a community-based, diversified financial services company).
You can have all the sponsors in the world, but if you don’t have key, competent personnel in place, an event could not reach the heights reached at the Masters at Williams Island.
As he has at every Grand Prix event I’ve attended, Mike Baldwin, Grand Prix Chair, was the right arm of the tournament host, this time Triana. Sandi Pardon served as official and wo-manned the tournament desk.
|Sandi, Mike, Leandro|
Head Tennis Pro Leandro Gutierrez, Jeneffer Soto, Juliet Bryan, Steven Smith, Lissette Roa and others saw to it that tournament players, clinic and Pro Am participants and spectators had all that they needed to be comfortable during the weekend.
|Lissette Roa working |
overtime in background
Mark Etinie and Jean Feviere kept the courts playable for us, despite some rain on Sunday, and on behalf of all the players, I’d like to thank the entire Williams Island tennis crew for their contributions to a top-notch weekend. As Mike Baldwin put it, “The players were absolutely spoiled and loved every minute of it.”
All of the above is certainly woven into the fabric of what made the USPTA Florida Fast Dry/10-S Tennis Supply Grand Prix Circuit Masters at Williams Island Tennis Club special, but it was the tennis that everyone came for, and there was plenty of that.
Men’s Open Singles
Beginning with the Marquee event, the Men’s Open Singles held true to form all the way through. No.1 Seed Paolo Barros of Winter Garden came in on-form and it showed. In his semifinal match against Erik Turnquist of Winter Haven, who came in as the top-ranked player in the Grand Prix Open Division, Paolo delivered a first-set bagel, and surrendered just two games to Erik in the second set.
Second-seeded Tye Myers of Naples had to overcome stiff opposition from the always gritty Julien Link of Sarasota in his semi, winning 6-2, 2-6, 10-2. I guess Tye might say that this one was 2-close for comfort :).
Paolo opened the final as strongly as he did the semi, serving up another bagel in the first. However, as one would expect, Tye battled back but fell a bit short, losing the second 5-7.
Men’s Open Doubles
You can probably imagine the fireworks on court with Franco Mata of Naples and Myers battling Paolo Barros and Erik Turnquist for a spot in the final.
The spectators were loving the battle, and when they split sets, the guys wanted to play out the third. Tournament officials stood firm on the published format, and Mata and Myers took the closely contested match, 4-6, 6-1, 10-5.
If the one semifinal featured fireworks, the other was all about bombs; those would be the serves Andy Lake of Plantation and Milos Vasovic of Melbourne were dropping on each other.
Lake teamed with Link to down Vasovic and Denny Rager of Fort Myers in straight sets. The first set went to a tiebreak where Lake and Link edged Vasovic and Rager 7-3. The winners closed out the second 6-3.
Mata and Myers were crowned Masters
Champions when Lake and Link withdrew.
|Franco Mata & Tye Myers|
Women’s Open Singles
As the result of a last minute withdrawal, Ioana Paun of Delray Beach, an accomplished and experienced competitor, faced first-time Masters participant, Carly Carpenter of Fort Myers.
It was not a very welcoming introduction, as Paun
defeated Carpenter 6-0, 6-0. Carly maintained her ever-present smile and
reported that “it was still fun!” If only more players had Carly’s attitude…
|Mike Baldwin and Ioana Paun|
Men’s 35 Singles
Women’s 35 Singles
Men’s 45 Singles
Things went according to form in the Men’s 45 as far as seeding was concerned, when No.1 Seed Horacio Rearte of Boca Raton downed points leader Jack Steyn of Bradenton 6-2, 6-1 and No.2 Seed Jeff Cohen of Boca Raton posted a 6-0, 6-1 win over John Morales of Melbourne in the semis.
Rearte then continued his dominance of the division
when he beat Jeff 6-4, 6-2. After the match, Jeff reported, “I had my chances,”
but Horacio somehow finds away to turn others’ chances into missed
Men’s 40 Doubles
|Kevin Kearns & Jeff Diggs|
|Mike Baldwin & John Morales|
Women’s 45 Singles
Women’s 40 Doubles
|Cindy Leprovost & Susie Brown|
|Elizabeth Burger & Sandy Bell|
Men’s 50 Singles
|Greg Neuhart & T. A. Niles|
I didn’t expect to get out to such a good start in the final, but took the first set 6-2. It’s not often you get two breaks of Greg’s serve in a single set, but he’s still on his way back from the bum elbow and his first-serve accuracy isn’t what it ordinarily is. I took the second set 6-4, but feel best about being down 1-4, 0-30, and rallying to win, closing out that 0-30 game with three aces.
Men’s 50 Doubles
|Jim Katterfield & T. A.|
|John Hudson & Jim Morton|
With me being at least a half step slow, putting very little on the serve, and unable to return serve with any consistency at all, Greg and Carlos had little trouble in the final, taking it 6-3, 6-2.
I had visions of completing the
double when I headed over to Williams Island that Friday, but it was not to be.
Mike? I just wanna be like Horacio.
|Frank Swope & Mike Puc|
Men’s 60 Singles
Men’s 60 Doubles
|Gewan Maharaj & Steve Shortridge|
|Dru Ackert & Terry See|
|Bob Grossman & Joe Bouquin|
|Bob Howell & Bob Green|
Wow! You made it all the way to the end? Impressive! Thanks to Steph and Mike Baldwin for their photographic contributions, and to Carlos and Jeneffer for their contributions as well. You can see additional photos here.