Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of
Tennis was once “Lawn Tennis” played on grass only. But that is history. Today we have tennis on multiple surfaces and it is not played in neckties and trousers, nor lady-like long dresses. As recently as the 70s and 80s serve-volley tennis was the dominant form, at least on fast services. Since the turn of the century and even before, strong baseline games have assumed dominance.

About the only thing that has stayed the same in tennis is the fact that the game is played with racquets, which hit balls over a net. How the game is played, how it is scored, how it is taught, and its role in the recreational lives of the billions on the planet all have changed…multiple times.

Modern Tennis
Photo courtesy of Rappahannock YMCA
These days, the tennis traditionalists are challenged by the rise of new formats within the traditional game (match tiebreaks, coaching on sidelines, etc.), as well as the emergence of new racquet sports such as Pickleball and the newest of the newcomers, All-Volley Tennis, an expansion of the sport commonly referred to as “Beach Tennis.” 
Mike Welter- Local Pickleball hero

Those who know me know that I’m willing to try just about anything (right Dawg?), and so when Mike Welter, one of our local tennis team captains, and USTA Florida officials told me about the fun and success he was having playing Pickleball (he has won numerous gold and silver medals), I had to give that a try. I can report that Pickleball was a lot of fun, great exercise, and something I would do regularly if I had more time and energy on my hands.

Fun on Fort Myers Beach This weekend, I had the utmost pleasure of trying my hand at All-Volley Tennis in its original “Beach Tennis” guise on Fort Myers Beach. Being
Eddie Neese & Sergio Rebolledo

an outdoorsy kinda guy who loves the ocean air, I was fully in my element. A number of other local tennis pros who are much better athletes (and younger too!) braved the beach and had a blast at the 2013 Sunshine Open this past weekend. And so did those who came down to cheer on their local pros.

As talented as some of us believe we are on the tennis court, we were no match for those who play All-Volley Tennis professionally…or even recreationally. I happened to do well playing the “Fun” division singles, but when I 
T. A. & Diane Johannes
stepped up to the Advanced Division to play doubles and mixed doubles with Oliver Stenger and Diane Johannes, respectively, we didn’t fare so well. 

The World's Best
The real story, however, was the tremendously skilled and talented men and women from all over the world playing in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sanctioned Pro, prize-money divisions.  
Representing USA
Aruba, Brazil, France, 
Germany, Japan, Italy, Puerto Rico, players from around the globe were on hand to amaze those of us new to the sport and to satisfy those who knew what to expect. 

Although the Pro singles matches were outstanding, particularly the women’s semifinals that I watched, singles is a bit of a sideshow to the main events. Men’s and women’s doubles are what the sport is about, what the ITF rankings are about, and the spectacular doubles action really stole the show. 
The speed of hand and foot, bodies and sand flying, and the applause and cheers erupting from the crowd on hand made the experience unlike any other.

For you tennis players, imagine the Bryan brothers and one of the other top doubles teams in the world, all at net smacking overheads, reflexing volleys, hitting dropshots, and lobs…all on the same point! That's what
Niola Gambi & Alessandro Calbucci
Ruth & Richard Edelman of Gulf Harbour
the action was like in the men’s and women’s Pro doubles semis and finals.

It was exhilarating and humbling, inspiring and depressing all once; after all, I’m well past being able to perform at anything at that level of expertise. Ah, but at least I can still appreciate it and that I did. I wasn’t the only one.

Rich and Ruth Edelman were on hand to watch their pros, Mike Curran, Frank Fourgeau, and Sergio Rebolledo test their skills. Sergio with Eddie Neese tried their hands against the All-Volley Pros, Mike and Frank took the sand against advanced All-Volleyers. Let's just say lessons were learned.

Frank Fourgeau & Mike Curran of Gulf Harbour
Asked for their sentiments about the event the Edelmans responded, “We thought it was great. The atmosphere was really fun, and we enjoyed watching the men play and the women who were as skilled as the men. A very good spectator sport. It was nice to be able to cheer for your team if you chose to and be loud as you wished to.”

The Men
In the all-Italian Men’s Pro Final, Michele Cappelletti, the No.2-ranked men’s player in the world, and Niccolò Strano (No.18) downed Alessandro Calbucci, the top ranked player in the world, and Niola Gambi (No.21), 6-3, 6-3, to claim the Men’s Pro Doubles title.

En route to the championship victory, Cappelletti and Strano took out top seeds Mateo Marighella (No.9) and Luca Meloconi (No.6) 7-6, 6-4 in the semis. 

To reach the final, Calbucci and Gambi had to get past second-seeded Vinicius Font (No.12) and Alex Mingozzi (No.7) in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. In all, six of the men ranked in the top-ten participated in the event, and delivered world class entertainment that I hope returns next year.

The Women
In the women’s final, 2012 European Champions Simona Bonadonna and Eva D’Elia, both of Italy and co-ranked No.5 in the world,

rolled over the best Brazil had to offer in the team of Joana Cortez and Samantha Barijan, co-ranked No.7 in the world, 6-0, 6-2. Both teams had been coming off grueling semifinal matches.

Cortez and Barijan had all they could handle in the semis with Nadia Johnston (No.17) and Nicole Melch (No.15),

the only American team in the competition, finally prevailing 6-3, 2-6, 10-7. Bonnadonna and D’Elia had no cakewalk in their semi, surviving Tomomi Takahashi (No.14) and Manuela Amiard (No.269) of France 6-2, 1-6, 10-7. 

Making it Happen
Tournament Director and Beach Tennis USA President, Jim Lorenzo and his team,
Jim Lorenzo- BTUSA President
with an assist from Three Oaks Tennis Director Pat Glaunert on the Advanced and Fun Divisions, put on a fantastic event. The BTUSA staff kept the cold water flowing (vital in the 90-plus degrees), and JB, 
JB on da J O B
the DJ served up the tunes, which TA thought was PC (uh, that means “pretty cool”). Probably a few too many initials, huh? Oh well, you’ll get over it… 

Local PerformersA few of our local pros, including yours truly, managed to represent Fort Myers well. 
Kerry & Scott Kendrick
Kerry and Scott Kendrick made it to the semis of the Advanced Division, before the heat and physical exertion put a stop to their run. I believe they were up a set and leading in the second when Scott had to retire. Bummer!

Frank Fourgeau and Corey Knapp won the Fun Division Men’s Doubles, and I won the Fun Division Men’s Singles.
Frank Fourgeau
Not bad for the second time picking up a beach tennis paddle, and the first time competing. I’m thinking that we can all do better with some practice over the next year, and if you haven’t tried it, you absolutely must!

Going Forward
According to 
Marc Altheim, Founder and CEO of All-Volley Tennis,  Pat Glaunert of Three Oaks Tennis was the driving force behind the entire extravaganza. "Pat dragged my 'bleep' down here last February, and it was his vision and his drive that made this happen," he said. 
Pat Glaunert the Auctioneer
Pat, Lyn Bruner, (Executive Director of the Lee County Community Tennis Association- LCCTA), Mike Curran (Director of tennis & Fitness at Gulf Harbour Golf & Country Club) and I were chatting at the event, and vowed to share the incredible experience we had with our tennis community.
Pat shows Jason Sherman of Diamond
district the ropes
We were envisioning a day when All-Volley Tennis leagues would be commonplace in school gyms and playgrounds, recreation centers, backyards, and just about anywhere else one could imagine.

With the incredible tennis community and weather that we have here, Fort Myers easily could be a hotbed for All-Volley Tennis, and even in poor weather indoors is an option.
Lyn Bruner & Ron Treaseh
check out action 
The fact that the ball doesn’t bounce allows play on any surface, even in snow! You won’t find me in the All-Volley Snow Bowl Championships (doesn’t’ exist yet, but wait a minute) in Alaska, but I know some of you enjoy playing in the cold stuff.

In all seriousness folks, this was a serious and fun event. When you have most of the top athletes in the world in attendance for any event in a given sport, you know it’s serious. 
But even the pros 
seemed to have fun while competing for one of the bigger purses on the International Tour. I am proud to be a member of the community that did such a tremendous job in its maiden voyage of hosting what is likely to become one of the more popular ITF Beach Tennis Tour stops.

After speaking with Marc Altheim, Founder and CEO of AVT, I feel confident that we will see another “sportacular” All Volley/Beach Tennis event on Fort Myers Beach in 2014. 
Marc Altheim- AVT CEO
According to Marc, "The 2013 Publishers Printing Company Sunshine Open was the most successful BT [Beach Tennis] event in United States history….” When we spoke, Marc also mentioned that they were working as we spoke to strike agreements with local officials and businesses to nail down a date for next year.

By Altheim’s count, there were over 120 professionals and approximately 150 amateurs taking part in 29 divisions, the most amateur players ever to compete in an AVT event. 
Tony of Pagielli's
As is the case with any successful event, there are many behind the scenes, and Marc paid tribute to some of those entities. He wrote, “BTUSA [Beach Tennis USA] is grateful to Pat Glaunert, Director of Three Oaks Tennis, for his vision, determination, leadership and implementation for the 2013 Sunshine Open.” To his credit, when asked for his response, Glaunert responded, "I am so humbled by the support of all of the local tennis community and I am so glad to be a part of it." 

Marc also attributed much of the event’s success to the locale: “The event venue (The Ft. Myers Beach Holiday Inn) was a major reason for the success of the event.
Holiday Inn
The ability to locate the event as well as the players and tournament organizers in one place made the event seamless. The quality of the playing surface ("the best sand in the USA") also contributed to the success of the event.”

And finally, the AVT CEO acknowledged the cooperation of the folks, without whom, this special occasion would not have happened.
Holiday Inn
He noted, “Further kudos to Lee County Sports and Ft Myers Beach government officials for making the road to success so smooth. Lastly, but not least, gratitude and appreciation to the robust and sweet people in the Ft Myers area." 

It's a Wrap
When the sun had set over the sand on Fort Myers Beach this past weekend, and the music had faded to the rhythm and sounds of sea surf, all who had participated, whether

spectator or player, could hardly question that our piece of paradise was the place to be this past weekend. You can view photos of the event by clicking here, click here for more information on All-Volley Tennis, and check out the International Tennis Federation website for more on professional Beach Tennis 


Pro Men Doubles Winners: Niccolò Strano Michele Cappelletti
Pro Men Doubles Runner Ups: Alessandro Calbucci, Niola Gambi

Pro Women Doubles Winners: Eva D'Elia Simona Bonnadonna
Pro Women Doubles Runner Ups: Joann Cortez, Samantha Barijan

Pro Mixed Doubles Winners: Vinicius Font, Flavia Muniz
Pro Mixed Doubles Runner Ups: Olivier Samaran, Manuela Amiard

Pro Men Singles Winner: Diego Carneiro
Pro Men Singles Runner up: Jorge Penaluer

Pro Women Singles Winner: Pauline Bourdet
Pro Women Singles Runner Up: Ludivine Bodar

Advanced Men Doubles Winners: Bancho Mansur, John Goitia
Advanced Men Doubles Runner Ups: Sylvain Nicolas, Christophe Le Rasle

Advanced Women Doubles Winners: Ka Man Hui, Liesje Seraus
Advanced Women Doubles Runner Ups: Alma Torres, Nicole Iglesias

Advanced Mixed Doubles Winners: Pedro Ochoa, Nicole Iglesias
Advanced Mixed Doubles Runner Ups: Randolph Arends, Jennifer Peterson

Advanced Men Singles Winner: Julian Chung
Advanced Men Singles Runner up: Scott Worden

Advanced Women Singles Winner: Ka Men Hui
Advanced Women Singles Runner up: Maria Pucci

Fun Men Doubles Winners:
Corey Knapp, Frank Forgeau
Fun Men Doubles Runner Ups:
Gustavo Spapavecchia, Rogello Rodriguez

Fun Women Doubles Winners: Lucia Weaver, Tania Renno
Fun Women Doubles Runner Ups: Becky Crespo, Lesli Culver

Fun Mixed Doubles Winners: Edwin Hsing, Katja Kock
Fun Mixed Doubles Runner Ups: Antonio Pinto, Flavia Perieu

Fun Men Singles Winner: TA Niles
Fun Men Singles Runner up: Dan Young

Fun Women Singles Winner: Lesli Culver


  1. Wow, what e weekend:) Great coverage T, I really enjoyed reading! I find it amazing..... you played, you watched and you covered this fun event with wonderful writing and very detailed information. Professionel work!!!! Good job!!!!