Tuesday, December 17, 2013


There's a lot coming up folks, and it starts tomorrow! I'm sure there must be more out there, but this is what I've got for now. In chronological order, events coming up include:

Wednesday & Saturday Dec. 18 & 21
Mediterra Events
Mike Baldwin
New Director of Tennis Mike Baldwin, whom you may know as the Chairperson of the USPTA Grand Prix, is firing up the tennis at Mediterra. This coming Wednesday, Mediterra, an award winning tennis facility, will be hosting the Naples Pro League. Similar to the extremely popular Southwest Florida Pro League, the top Collier County pros will be competing for “pride and prize money,” according to Mike. Pro League matches will begin at 5pm and 6:30pm, and food and drinks will be available on site for spectators.
Alejandro Falla
As good as the local pros are, I suspect that the pros Mike has coming in for the ATP Pro Exhibition on Saturday, December 21 (next Saturday!), among the top hundred in the world in singles and doubles, will provide a different level of tennis entertainment. Among the pros that will be on hand are Santiago Giraldo (No.69 in singles), Alejandro Falla (No.99 in singles, and with ties to local community), Juan-Sebastian Cabal (No.44 in doubles), Robert Farah (No.48 in doubles), and others.

I hate to give up lessons, but how could I possibly miss this! Action begins at 10:30am and ends at noon. Gale wanna go watch the pros is Naples? How about you Lil? This really is a can’t-miss opportunity, so hope to see you there. You can find out more by calling 239-254-3039.

Friday, Jan. 3
Southwest Florida Team Tennis (SWFTT)
Armor Persons & T. A. down
Pat Glaunert & Oliver Stenger in SWFTT match
With 10 teams in its second year of play, the Southwest Florida Team Tennis League (SWFTT) is in full swing, with its next match on Friday, January 3, 2014. Last season’s Inaugural Champs, Beachview, has the early season lead with 15 points; The Strand is second with 13 points and The Hideaway sits in third with 12. Click here for everything SWFTT, including Team Rosters, Standings, Schedule, etc. Roster spots are still open for players rated 4.0 and above. Call (239-671-5646) or email (flatsfishr@aol.com) Blake Matherly for more info.

Tuesday - Sunday, Jan. 7 - 12
Super Seniors Coming to SW Florida
Jeff Timmer
The Annual West Coast Swing of the USTA Florida Super Senior Grand Prix is just about around the corner, and this old man is going to make his super senior debut at the West Coast Super Senior Grand Prix at Colonial (Designated), January 7 - 12. Director of Tennis Jeff Timmer, his staff and the members at Colonial will host the initial Grand Prix event for the eighth consecutive year.
Steve Shortridge
Colonial’s own Steve Shortridge posted a big win last year in the opening tourney, winning the 60 Singles event. Pelican Preserve’s Bob Green also had a good run, making it to the Final before falling to Steve in straight sets. We hope that Fred Drilling, the top-ranked player in USTA Florida’s Men’s 70 Singles ranking, who reached the final of all five Grand Prix events he played last season, winning two, will seek to defend his Colonial win next month.

In all, there are seven Super Senior Grand Prix events scheduled for Southwest Florida. Tournaments will be played in Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota and St. Pete. I’ll see what condition I’m in after the first and go from there.

Friday, Jan. 10
Southwest Florida Pro League (SWFPL)
Your favorite local pros swing back into action in the SWFPL at Heritage Palms the second week of January. After four regular season events, the standings are ProGraphx in the lead with 25 points, Boston Retirement Advisors with 23, Harborside Dental with 20, and Johnny Malloy’s with 17.5. 

Paul D'Amico
Paul D'Amico (Director of Tennis) and his staff at The Landings did a terrific job as usual at the last stop of 2013, on Friday the 13th, and I expect Mike and Carolyn at Heritage Palms will do the same in the first matches of 2014. Matches usually start at 4pm and 5:30pm, but there’s no definitive schedule to report yet.

Sunday, Jan. 12
The Landings Event
Kimberly Jones & Paul D'Amico
Speaking of Paul D'Amico and his staff, as they have done since his arrival at The Landings two years ago, Paul D’Amico, Director of Tennis, continues to bring quality events to our community. In conjunction with the Landings Tennis Association’s 2014 kickoff tennis event, The Landings will host a Babolat-sponsored exhibition featuring four former Wimbledon participants, including a Wimbledon Champ!
Russell & Gourlay defeat Navratilova & Stove
in Final at Wimbledon in 1977
Joanne Russell, Wimbledon Doubles Champion with Helen Gourlay in 1977, and a former WTA top-25 player, will join The Landings own Kimberly Jones, another former WTA top-25 and Wimbledon participant, as the second woman on court. 

Mikael Pernfors
Michael Pernfors, a former ATP top-10 player, French Open Finalist and two-time NCAA Champion; and Tobias Svantesson, who reached as high No.64 in doubles and No.89 in singles on the ATP Tour, will complete the foursome. 
I had the pleasure of playing doubles with Tobias in the Florida Cup a few years ago, and he was still good enough to carry me, so you don’t want to miss this event. The exhibition will be from 1 - 2:30pm, and I hope to see you there.

Friday - Sunday, Jan. 17 -19
Three Oaks Illini Shootout
Pat Glaunert
Two other key additions to our tennis community, Pat Glaunert (Director of tennis) and Angie Guillette (Director of Events & Programming) are up to their usual tricks, bringing another mega event to the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park, January 17-20. 

Angie Guillette
The Fighting Illini Invitational, featuring men’s tennis teams from the University of Illinois, University of South Florida, and University of Florida, will be another tremendous opportunity for our community to participate in an inspirational tennis event.

Coach Brad Dancer
In addition to terrific tennis, the University of Illinois Men’s Head Tennis Coach Brad Dancer, has donated a one-hour private lesson to be taken during this time. In addition, the University of Illinois Men’s Team will donate a ninety-minute "play Division I college tennis" session with one local participant and three Illini team members. These donations are for an auction to help raise money for the tornado victims in Washington, Illinois, about an hour away from the team’s campus. Stay tuned for more details about the auction as the event grows closer.

These last two tidbits don't have anything to do with upcoming events, but I wanted to get them in. 

USTA Mixed Champs

Andy Rundle & Terri Destoppelaire
I had intended to mention a while back that we had some repeat champions in our midst, as Terri Destoppelaire and Andy Rundle defended their NTRP State Closed 7.5 Mixed Doubles title in Boca Raton in late October. Congrats are definitely in order! Sorry I was late in acknowledging the accomplishment folks.

Voodoo Justice
And last and maybe even least, I got an email from the creator of the video below, asking if it was in poor taste. I’d love to let him know what you think. Check it out and make a comment on the blog or send me an email with your opinion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqF9dbbMa3s. Game, set, match...T. A.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Hideaway Ladies Team Update
3.0 Team
The Hideaway 3.0 team has won two and split two of the seven matches played thus far, but with a shutout loss in its last match against third-place Gulf Harbour Racquettes, the team fell to No.17 of 22 teams in the League.  
Our 3.0 ladies did post a 3 courts to 1 victory over 11th-place Lexington in their previous match and won three of four courts against 8th-place Pelican Landing earlier in the season, so their current standing may be a bit deceiving. I’m looking for our 3.0 team to climb into the top 10 by season’s end. Our next 3.0 home match is tomorrow, December 2nd at 10:30am. Click here for LCWTL team standings.

Bronze Team
Our Bronze ladies are sitting at No.14 of 21 teams in the League, after a shutout loss in their last match against Pelican Preserve, the top team in the Division. 
Despite losing all of the courts, it was encouraging, because three of the matches included tiebreak sets, including one that Pat Ben-Dov and Reggie Miskovish lost 6-4, 5-7, 5-10 on Court 2. 
The team also took three courts from 8th-place Lexington Supershots and 9th-place Legends in recent matches. Our Bronze team should rise in the rankings as well as the season progresses. Our Bronze team plays next at home against Colonial on Wednesday December 11th, at 10:30am.

Copper Team
Our Copper team is also far down the leaderboard at No.19 of 22 teams, but are making a run, posting more points than its last two opponents. In their last match against 8th-place Pelican Sound, our 
Copper ladies took 15 of 26 available points, and in their previous match, they won three of four courts against FMRC, which sits one spot ahead of The Hideaway.  With the next match against last-place Fiddlesticks, our Copper ladies are poised to continue moving up the ladder. The next Copper home match will be Friday, January 3rd at 10:30am.

Hideaway Men’s Team Update 

The Hideaway’s Southwest Florida Team Tennis team led by Mike Stern will be playing home matches the next two Fridays (6th & 13th) at 2pm. In addition to Mike, 
three USPTA professionals Armor Persons, Larry Gagnon, and yours truly are also on the team. The pros are questionable for the next two matches because the Southwest Pro League will also be played on those days.

After three matches, The Hideaway sits in a four-way tie for 6th, despite splitting the four matches with second-place Strand. The two upcoming matches are against The 
Vines on December 6th, and against Miromar on the 13th, both at 2pm. The Vines is one of the teams tied for fourth-place, while Miromar is tied with The Hideaway for 6th. Click here for tem standings.
Our Men’s 70-Plus Lee County team got off to a slow start at home in its first match against The Dunes, dropping three of the four matches played. As for Hideaway members on the team, 
Captain Ed Marcelo dropped his match on Court 4 and Rich Fell lost his match in straight sets as well on Court 3. The men play at home again on Wednesday, December 11, at 2pm against Bonita Beach, which is tied for second after one match. Click here for match scores.

USTA 3.5 55 and Over
Also captained by Ed Marcelo, The Hideaway’s 3.5 Men’s team will play its final match of the season against Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) this coming Wednesday at FMRC. The team has won all five matches played, and even a loss against the team it has beaten twice won’t influence its standing as League Champions. The team may have to play for the right to advance to Daytona if they don’t win the Spring League.  I’m betting on our guys to pay for it all in Daytona.

Thanksgiving has passed, but I’d like to say “Thank You!” to all of our tennis members, particularly those who represent our Club in league play, and our team captains Pearle Warren, Lynne Price, Bert Ann Haas, Ed Marcelo and Mike stern who do an incredibly difficult job with very little thanks. Thanks to Sean Balliet and the pro shop staff, and to Tom Dudas and Janine Harrell. It wouldn’t happen without all of the above. Game, set, match…T. A.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


The second engagement of the Southwest Florida was at Pelican Landing on Friday, November 15. As nice a facility as Pelican Landing is, I suspect it may be the last Pro League session at that site. Skipping the details, there are certain things that are expected at a Pro League site, and those things just weren’t there at our last Pro League date.
Be that as it may, the action was every bit as dramatic as usual, with six of the 10 matches played ending in a third set or deciding-set tiebreak. ProGraphx, (PG) my team led by Mike Curran, went into that session with a two-point lead over Luke Andreae’s Harborside Dental (HD), and is still in the lead, but by one point. 

Boston Retirement Advisors (BRA), with Frank Fourgeau at the helm, held onto third place, maintaining the 2 ½ point lead over Sergio Rebolledo’s Johnny Malloy’s (JM) that it held coming in.

ProGraphx (PG) vs. Harborside Dental (HD)

Court 1
After taking the first set 6-3, Mike Curran and Manuel Encalada dropped the second (3-6) against Jared Kalpin and Shawn Hedrick, but they came out strong in the third and dished up a bagel to claim two points for PG.

Court 2
In the longest match of the evening, Elliott DeBolt and Jimmy Martineau scored two points for HD, edging Patrick Kangwa and me 6-4, 5-7, 7-6, Listen, losing never really feels good, but facing the kind of firepower those talented youths brought to the table, I feel ok about getting a point for the team, especially since Jimmy had won on Court 1 the previous time out. I’m sure Elliott and Jimmy were happy to escape with two points for HD.

Court 3
Todd Wise and Matt Maloney are likely to make a run at an undefeated season if they stay at Court 3 for PG. John Jerome and Mike Stevens (sub) gave them a run for their money in the second set (6-7) after dropping the first set 3-6. It was the second consecutive session that Mike fell to Todd and Matt, and second consecutive two-point outing for Todd and Matt.

Court 4
HD picked up two points when Mike Lawver and Jeff Timmer rolled over Pat Glaunert and Larry Albritton in straight sets (6-2, 6-1). It was Pat and Larry’s first time on court together, and it showed against the seasoned team of Lawver and Timmer.

Mixed Doubles
Carolyn Lawver stepped in for Angie Guillette to play with Terry See for PG, and they ran into the tough team of Kim Jones and John Ramsey. Carolyn and Terry the first set 6-3, but Kim and John bounced back to take the second set 6-4, and the deciding-set tiebreak 10-8, scoring two points for HD, to one for PG.

Boston Retirement Advisors (BRA) vs. Johnny Malloy’s (JM)

Court 1
Captain Sergio Rebolledo and Ryan Sherry handed Denny Rager and Scott Harrington their second loss of the fledgling season, posting two points for JM with their 6-4, 6-2 victory. This was another case of youth prevailing over experience, and the twenty-somethings proved too much for the 40-odds.

Court 2
BRA Captain Frank Fourgeau and Corey Knapp needed three sets to put Joel Hampton and Jeff Solomon to rest, but put em to rest they did. After losing the first set 1-6, Frank and Corey awoke to even the match with a 6-1 set of their own. They earned the 2-1 points edge with a 6-4 third-set victory.

Court 3
JM took a hard-fought victory on Court 3, with Jeff Diggs and Rick Calton outlasting Mike Barnes and Larry Gagnon 6-1, 4-6, 10-8. The youth over experience theme continued in this one as Larry and Mike spotted Jeff and Rick a couple of decades. 

Knowing Mike and Larry, I know they were not happy with that one point they posted for BRA. Jeff and Rick had to breathe a sigh of relief after claiming the two points for JM.

Court 4
BRA picked up 1.5 more points when USPTA District 14 President Alex Hermeto teamed with Marius Espeleta (sub) to down Armor Persons and Mark Drons in straight sets (6-4, 6-3). It was the second week in a row that Armor had stepped up in vain from his mixed doubles position to fill in for an absent Court 4 player.

Mixed Doubles
Kerry Kendrick and Steve Shortridge posted 1.5 points (.5 point penalty for uniform violation) for BRA, winning for the second consecutive engagement. Again it was a tough battle, this time with Erica Cossairt and Bob Green. Erica and Bob started strong, taking the first set 6-2, but Kerry and Steve roared back to take the second 6-1 and closed it out 10-6 in the tiebreak.

Next Week
The League next heads to Fiddlesticks on Friday, December 6. Mixed Doubles will be played at 3pm, Courts 3 & 4 at 4pm and Courts 1 & 2 at 5:30pm. First-place ProGraphx (14 points) will take on third-place Boston Retirement Advisors (10.5 points), and second-place Harborside Dental (13 points) will face fourth-place Johnny Malloy’s (8 points). If all the players show up for this event, it should be another humdinger of a Friday evening at Fiddlesticks. Game, set, match...T. A.

T. A.'s tennis gear supplied by Tennis R Us


When there’s so much to think and talk about it’s tough to know where to begin in recapping the 33rd Annual Naples-Fort Myers Challenge! Do we start with the much deserved kudos to Paula Scheb and her Bonita Bay Club staff? Do we start with the incredible volunteer effort of the Bonita Bay tennis members? Or should we go with the upset victory posted by Fort Myers, only the third in 33 years?
Lucas Vaz
Perhaps we should start with the contributions of FGCU’s Women’s and Men’s Tennis programs, especially the event-clinching victory in Open Doubles by birthday boy, freshman Lucas Vaz and senior Jordi Vives. Perhaps the women should get top billing, because they went 2-0 while the men went 1-2 in the competition. 

Those two wins equaled Fort Myers’ margin of victory (12-10), and they came when the Means sisters, 
Means sisters post a win
Elizabeth and Sara, won their Open doubles match, and Women’s Head Coach Courtney Vernon won her Open Singles match. Pardon my enthusiasm for the FGCU program, but it is warranted given all the things happening with those programs.
Breckenridge members in attendance
The folks at Bonita Bay must agree with me because proceeds of the Naples-Fort Myers Challenge will benefit the Athletic Department’s efforts to erect bleachers adjacent to the tennis courts. I look forward to the day when those bleachers are completely filled and it’s standing room only at the courts for an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal or something.
Paula Scheb
As tremendous as the FGCU story is, I think the amazing job done by Paula Scheb and all of the people to whom she awards credit is really the story here. I have been playing tennis tournaments and events for almost four decades, and there isn’t one that I would consider better orchestrated than the Naples-Fort Myers Challenge.
From the well-organized, friendly registration process, the flat screen live-scoring monitors, the outstanding competition, through the delicious meal donated by Carrabbas (of course everyone had at least seconds), the 2013 Naples-Fort Myers Challenge was a top-notch event!
Captain Timmer in background 
Of course kudos also must go to Fort Myers Captain Jeff Timmer of Colonial and Naples Captain Pete Minarich of Pelican Marsh, both of whom do the tedious work behind the scenes to get the teams together to play the event. But how does Paula do it? The event just keeps getting better year after year.
Bonita Bay volunteers
Paula always gives the credit to her team, and she expressed tons of appreciation for the job the volunteers did. She credited individuals like Lee O’Daniel, Phil Otero, Pater Paul, Ken Mack, Dennis Kozlowski, Charlie Cavaliere, John Pinti, and Maggie Otero for the various areas they headed, including things like registration, score-keeping, parking, publicity, etc. The initial volunteer count was supposed to be 40, but they ended up with 58! What an effort!
The event was billed as, “a team competition between the best tennis players of Lee County against the best of Collier County,” and of course that can be debated. However, on the Naples team, there were a number of former college and challenger tour players, a former Davis Cup player (Jicham Zatini), and a former Wimbledon Doubles Champion JoAnne Russell.
The Fort Myers side of the ledger didn’t lookd nearly as impressive on paper, even with a former ITF World No.1 in Men’s 65 (Fred Drilling), a player (Mike Barnes) who was a collegiate All American with ATP Tour wins over former top-ten players, a former Davis Cup Coach (Larry Gagnon), several FGCU standouts, and tournament host Paula Scheb. Fortunately, the matches aren't played on paper!
Bonita Bay volunteers
It was a close competition all the way through, with eight of the 22 matches concluding in deciding-set tiebreaks, including the clinching climax which featured FGCU’s Vaz and Vives downing FGCU Alum Jose Pastrello and Tyler Manring 10-7 in the deciding set tiebreak.
FGCU Women's Head Coach
Unlike last year’s Challenge, where Naples took seven of the nine deciding-set tiebreaks played, Fort Myers took half of the eight played this time around. Paula and Bonita Bay Head 

Pro Holly Chomyn did their part, winning the Women’s 45 Doubles 10-3 in the deciding-set tiebreak. FGCU’s Women’s Tennis Coach, Courtney Vernon, notched a big one for the winning team, edging her opponent 10-6 in their decider.
There was so much to gush about at this event, that I’m sure Presenting Sponsor Tony Ritzman of Ritzman Tennis was thrilled with his affiliation, and no doubt the other sponsors were as well. Those sponsors included Carrabbas of Bonita Springs; Carlos Amaris & Kay L. Andrews, AVP Merrill Lynch Wealth Management; Five County Insurance; Kriz Physical Therapy, P.A.; and Page & Tuttle.
Spectator Virgil Graves
Late as this report is, I guess it is appropriate because loads of gratitude should be offered up to the folks at Bonita Bay, the sponsors, the players, team captains, Steph our photographer, and to all of the spectators who helped raise approximately $2500 toward erecting court-side bleachers for FGCU tennis matches. Thanks all, and I look forward to another successful collaboration on the 34th Annual Naples-Fort Myers Challenge in 2014. 

The next Bonita Bay tennis extravaganza that you won't want to miss is the FineMark Tour Players Tennis Classic, February 28 - March 1. This celebrity-filled event features current and former ATP and WTA players, and you can join them in raising funds for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

A special note to Fort Myers Captain Jeff Timmer: Of course we’d like you back Jeff, but if this was your fare thee well, thanks for all you have done to make the Challenge what it is. You can see additional photos of the event by clicking here. Game, set, match…T. A.