Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February Tennis in Fort Myers: Recap & Preview

What a month of tennis! Whose idea was it anyway to cram 10,000 tennis events into the shortest month of the year? Ok, so maybe there aren’t really 10,000, but it sure feels like that to me!

Here’s a recap of what has transpired thus far in February, and we aren’t even half-way through the month:

FGCU Sets Attendance Record
Standing room only crowd
After destroying Troy on Friday the 1st, FGCU’s Men’s Tennis Eagles were bucked by the Mustangs of SMU on Saturday, February 2. 

(photo courtesy of Dennis Snyder)
It may have been a loss on the courts, but it was certainly a win in the stands as a record crowd witnessed the first night-match of the season.

John Woram Schmoozes the crowd
It takes some doing to break records, and John Woram, with cooperation from FGCU's athletic and facilities departments, and a few key members of the tennis community, particularly Mike Melnik of Shadow Wood Country Club, provided that doing. 

The Singing Brooks
With the Singing Brooks choir singing the national anthem, the Lola Loca food truck on hand, PA system blaring, and over 1000 

fans in attendance, the FGCU-SMU match was an event that the players and all in attendance will remember.

Tianyu Bao gains only win
(photo courtesy of Dennis Snyder)
As for what took place on court, super sophomore Tianyu Bao furnished the only point for the Eagles against the Mustangs, a team that was coming off tough losses against top-50 teams. Bao downed Alex Sanders 6-4, 6-4 at No.2 Singles with a relentless attack.

Sophomore Jordi Vives at No.1 Singles
(photo courtesy of Dennis Snyder)
Despite the dual-match loss, the Eagles played hard in defeat, and sophomore Jordi Vives at No.1 Singles and junior Lance Lvovsky at No.5 Singles lost heartbreaking 

Lance Lvovsky & Dean Tsamas
tiebreaks in their first sets before succumbing in straights. Teamed with Dean Tsamas, Lvovosky lost a nailbiter at No.3 Doubles as well. The Eagles head to Orlando this weekend to take on UCF’s Knights and one of my old rivals, U-Conn.

Lady Eagles supporting counterparts
FGCU’s Lady Eagles are playing at home this weekend, and they are off to a 2-0 start to their season and certainly warrant as much support as the men. They play Houston at 11am on Saturday and Iowa State at 11am on Sunday. FGCU Men’s Tennis will be home next on Saturday, February 23, at 5pm against Oklahoma State. Hold down the fort for me; I'll be in Delray.

Gateway Rookie Tourney
Jacob Freeman
The same weekend, Alex Hermeto and Gateway Country Club hosted a Rookie Tournament. With relatively new boys and girls tournament players facing off in age groups from 11 and under through 16 and under, the matches were every bit as competitive as those you would find anywhere.

Carlos Carbo
Examples of such matches include Chase Babair’s 7-6, 1-6, 10-7 finals win over Harry Housler in the Boys 11 and under division; and Jacob Freeman’s 6-3, 3-6, 10-3 Boys' 16s finals win over Carlos Carbo, after Carbo had posted a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Aaron Brunswick in the semis. 
Julia Curran
But the girls may have posted the match of the tourney, with Julia Curran’s 4-6, 6-1, 16-14 win over Katie Meredith in the Semis.

LCCTA Tourney at Three Oaks
While the rookies were engaging at Gateway, the “veterans,” experienced boys and girls in 12 and under through 16 and under divisions, were vying for honors at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park.

Nikki Perrino
In the Boys’ 12s, No.2 Seed Tyler Carlin marched through the draw without dropping a set, toppling top-seed Adam Lachenmayr 6-1, 6-4 in the final.  In the Girls’ 12s, No.1 Seed Nikki Perrino was every bit as impressive, losing just eight games in three matches, with her toughest match being the final against unseeded Madison Barron. Barron had come off a tough win in the semis against No.2 Seed Lindsey Bonco (7-5, 2-6, 1-0), but Perrino was too tough, taking the final 6-3, 6-4.

Reynold Greenlaw
In the Girls’ 14s, Emma Scott was the top seed, and she played like it, winning her two matches without dropping a game. Our local boys had a tough time in the Boys’ 14s, as both Ethan Littlestone and Reynold Greenlaw of Cape Coral fell in the semis. 

Brothers Greenlaw at TPI Practice
I’m told that there were some scoring/officiating irregularities in the Greenlaw match that resulted in a heartbreaking 1-6, 6-4, 0-1 loss to second-seeded Raul Rodriguez of Marco Island in the semis. Hate when that happens…Rodriguez lost 0-6, 4-6 to Graham Conron of Cortez, FL in the final.

Robert Greenlaw
In the Boys’ 16s, big brother John Carlin had little trouble taking the division, losing seven games in three matches, and claiming the final over Robert Greenlaw, 6-2, 6-4. On the Girls’ 16s side, No.2 Seed Stevie Kennedy was tested a bit more in her march to the title, but didn’t lose more than six games in any match, including her 7-5, 6-1 victory over Sydney Nowak in the final.

Edison at Fort Myers Racquet Club
While the juniors were doing their thing at Gateway and Three Oaks, the adults were battling at Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) in the longest running event in the area, the 40th Annual Edison Tennis Classic. 
Mark Davis & Carly Carpenter
It was the first weekend of Mark Davis and Carly Carpenter’s maiden voyage at the helm of the Edison Classic since they assumed the leadership of FMRC.

Virgil Graves in Men's 3.5
The first weekend of the two-weekend event saw competition in 10 different divisions, including four men’s singles, three women’s singles and three mixed doubles draws. 
Tye Myers- Open Champ
In the premier event, the Men’s Open, Tye Myers of Naples took claimed the top prize over Franco Mata, 6-2, 6-3. The real excitement, however, took place prior the final. Jorge Falla of Naples (dad of tour player Alejandro Falla) scored one for us 

Jorge Falla
seniors when he outlasted Jarrod Goare, last year’s Open Finalist, in three sets in the quarters, then took this year’s Finalist Mata to three sets in the semis.

Duane Chaney- 4.5 Champ
The Men’s 3.0 and 4.0 Singles finals featured tough matches, as Tim Hamilton edged David Flor, 5-7, 6-3, 1-0, and Kevin Watts got past Bruce Fulkerson in a match tiebreak as well (sorry, didn’t get the score). In the Men’s 4.5 Singles, a division that proved to be as tough as any played that weekend, Duane Chaney downed David Wyrsch 7-5, 6-4 in the final.

Renee Bailin- 3.5 Champ
The ladies’ draws were small, but the competitors were no less intense. Kat Hawk (how cool is that name!) defeated Donna Doyle 6-1, 6-4 in the 3.0 Singles final, Renee Bailin took the 3.5 final over Gilly Allen, 6-2, 6-1, and Michelle Compty and Ginny Reed were in the final of the Women’s 4.0 (no result for this one).

Bob Moore & Donna Doyle
As far as Mixed goes, the 6.0 winners were Petrov and Martin over Moore and Donna Doyle (6-3, 6-3; the 7.0 champions were Dietz and Gentile over Tyler Delucca and Tracy DiBiase (6-4, 6-3); 
and the 8.0 winners were Reed and Reed over Andy Rundle and Dest (6-2, 6-4). Men’s and Women’s Doubles were contested this past weekend, but I don’t have results for that yet.

Grandezza Gives Back
Zach & Rich
This past weekend (Sunday the 10th) also featured a benefit event at the Club at Grandezza, where Lanny Kalpin (Director of Tennis) and Rich and Trish DeSousa spearheaded the Third Annual Grandezza Gives Back. The event included a Men’s and Women’s Doubles tournament, a silent auction, and an exhibition. All participants received an FGCU t-shirt, a “goodie bag,” and more importantly, had a great time.

Mickey & Judy
FGCU’s Men’s Tennis Team was the recipient of the event’s proceeds this year, as the Grandezza membership seems to have adopted the Eagles. Coach C. J. was on hand to thank the community for their support and for making the Eagles an integral part of the Grandezza community. 
FGCU Men's Tennis Coach C. J. Weber
It's a great honor to feel the warm support from the Grandezza community. To be closely connected with a community right in our back yard is invaluable, and I look forward to growing the relationship as time goes on,” Coach Weber remarked.

Winners of the various events include:  Jim Doepke & Bob Lowe (Men’s 3.0); Bruce Fernald & Kevin McNally (Men’s 3.5); John Swan & Jerry Sullivan (Men’s 4.0/4.5); Stacy & Aubrie Sherman (Women’s 2.5); Eileen Patterson & Jane Christ (Women’s 3.0); Mei-Mei Chan-Kirk & Judy Balzer (Women’s 3.5); and Barbara Fortunato & Candice Coen (Women’s 4.0/4.5).

Lanny Kalpin ovesees the activities
In addition, the big winner of the silent auction may have been Tricia Blakeslee  who walked away with an Eli Manning-signed football. Of course that was worth more last year, but hey, it was still a major coup for Tricia.

The biggest winner of all, however, was the FGCU Men's Tennis program, as the event raised over $2800 for the program. 

Bobby Nichols at Fiddlesticks
This coming weekend is another jam-packed tennis weekend. As mentioned in a previous post, the Bobby Nichols-Fiddlesticks Charity 

Foundation will be hosting the 5th Annual Tennis Tournament and Kids for Kids Walkathon at Fiddlesticks Country Club. There will be a smorgasbord of activities for children and adults at Fiddlesticks all weekend.

Team Expo at Park Meadow Tennis Shop
This Friday the 15th from 10am – 5pm, Park Meadow Tennis Shop will host its 2nd Annual Team Expo at 1939 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 2 (next door to the shop). Several vendors, including Tail, Bolle, Venus Williams’ Eleven, and a number of others will be on hand for you to experience up close and personal. If you play on a women’s team, or are just looking for something different to wear to the courts, this event is a “must attend.” If you haven’t been to the Park Meadow Tennis Shop or to their website, you may want to give them a look-see.

14th Annual Sneaky Pete Tournament at Sterling Oaks
A little bit south of us, at the Club at Sterling Oaks in Naples, the 14th Annual Sneaky Pete’s Tennis Championship will kickoff this Saturday, the 16th and runs through the 23rd. Unfortunately, the deadline for event entry was the 11th, but perhaps you might still be able to get in if you give them a call at 239-566-1800 or email tennis@sterling-oaks.com

If I weren’t going to be out of town on the 23rd, I might have signed up myself. There’s prize money, players’ party, gift bags, and more for all participants. Divisions offered include 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 men's and women's singles and 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 doubles and mixed doubles along with the new Open Division. Whether you make it into a draw or not, there should be some good tennis to watch, especially in the Open Division.

Ultimate Tennis Deadline
For the multitude of Ultimate Tennis (formerly K-Swiss) warriors out there, and for those who might be thinking about putting their singles skills to the test, the deadline for the upcoming Winter Season is this Friday the 15th.

Our local women didn’t fare so well in the Fall Season (no champions), but Kat Hawk did make the semis before falling in three sets to the Finalist.  Our men, on the other hand, did quite well, taking all but two of the seven divisions offered in the fall.

Among the men's champions were Matthew Roszkowski of Three Oaks Park (5.0); Christian Karlovits of Rutenberg Park (4.0); Edison 3.5 Champion Tim Hamilton of FMRC (3.5); John Thorp of Stoneybrook (3.0); and Oscar Pascual of Three Oaks (2.5). As you can see, there are levels of competition for anyone who wants to put his or her singles skills to the test. New members can register free of charge at https://www.ultimatetennis.com/.

FineMark Classic at Bonita Bay
The tennis climax of February will take place at Bonita Bay Club when Paula Scheb and her outstanding team of staff and volunteers host the FineMark Tour Players Classic on February 22 & 23. I’ve detailed how special this event is likely to be in a previous post (scroll to bottom of that post), and the event’s website provides all the information you could want, along with opportunities to participate.

In a nutshell, this is a charity event that benefits a very needy population, while allowing the average fan, to play, dine, and spend time with players who have, at one time or another, been ranked among the best tennis players in the world. Over the two days, participants will have the opportunity to watch some of the greats play a team match, will get the chance to have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner with the world class athletes, and play with a tennis legend in the Pro Am. 

Proceeds from the FineMark Tour Players Classic are donated to Barbara's Friends Cancer Fund- The Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, and will be doubled by the matching grant of Tom Golisano. Please visit the above website or call 239-343-6950 for additional information and to register for the event. 

Wow huh? tons of tennis to play and see! I'll do my best to keep you posted, but there's only so much gas in this tank. See you around the courts. Game, set, match...T. A. 

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