Sunday, September 15, 2013


Note: You can view additional photos of the event by clicking here.
FMRC team: Barry Speakman, Steve Romaine, 
Wolf Tchaikovsky, E. W. Brockwell, Mike Stern, 
Tim McClary, Jeff Stevenson, Tommy Carlisle, 
Lance Johnson, Jack Dunmead
Well, I suggested in my last blog post that the USTA Men’s 7.5, 50-and-over combo playoff between Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC) and Park Meadow Tennis Center (PMTC) would be entertainingly close. On Friday the 13th at The Hideaway Country Club, the match wasn’t decided until 11-9 in the match tiebreak, two and a half hours after the match began.

Lance Johnson & Tommy Carlisle
It was only 89 degrees, but it felt like 90-plus, and it appeared that no one on Court 3 had any interest whatsoever in hanging out for a long drawn out affair. Tommy Carlisle and Lance Johnson took the court for 

John Suydam & Brandon Rose
FMRC against John Suydam and Brandon Rose of Park Meadow, and before the first set was over on either of the other two courts, Tommy and Lance were walking off with a 6-0, 6-2 victory.  

On Court 1, Rankin McGougan and Frank "Crown Royal" Ryan of PMTC faced off against Barry Speakman and E. W. Brockwell.

Frank Ryan & Rankin McGougan
The first set was nip and tuck, back and forth, and with one match in their pockets, it looked pretty good for FMRC when Barry and EW jumped ahead 5-2 in the first set breaker. 

Looks can be deceiving however, as the proverbial “They” say, and Rankin and Frank ran off five consecutive points to take the first set tiebreak. 
Barry Speakman & E. W. Brockwell
Barry and EW never recovered from the first set loss and Rankin and Frank rolled to a 6-2 second set win.

The nail-biter of the match took place on Court 2, with Steve Romaine and Jack Dunmead representing 
Steve Romaine & Jack Dunmead
FMRC and Mike Welter and Dan Campbell taking the court for PMTC. As reminded by FMRC team captain Mike Stern, all four of the players had plenty of playoff experience coming in, all having played in championships in Daytona within the past nine months.

With Jack and Steve, we were looking at two 70-plus-year-olds giving up a couple of decades to former Marine Corps Colonel Welter and whippersnapper Campbell (he’s not even sniffing 60). 
Dan Campbell & Mike Welter
The young guys jumped out to a quick 4-1 start, but the seasoned vets just kept grinding.

Steve and Jack clawed their way back to 5-4 with Jack serving for the first set, but Dan and Mike refused to lose, broke Jack, and the set went to a tiebreak. Again, it was a see-saw battle in the tiebreak and it took a let cord off Dan’s good hands to win the tiebreak 7-5.

Jack & Steve come back
Mike and Dan appeared to have a bit of a letdown after claiming that first set, and Jack and Steve cruised to a 6-2 second set, with only a minor hiccup when Jack was broken at 5-1.The deceiving looks appeared again in the match tiebreak, and Captain Stern’s prediction that it would go to at least 8-8 in the tiebreak did not look good.

Dan skies for overhead
Jack and Steve seemed to be cruising down EZ Street when they got to 6-1 in the match tiebreak, but suddenly found themselves tiptoeing up Heartbreak Hill. Mike and Dan had reeled off six straight points of their own to take a 7-6 lead, and the FMRC fans were squirming a bit uncomfortably.

Yes, if you were a FMRC fan watching Jack and Steve, both, slowly shuffling to the gazebo during the change of sides, your confidence probably would have been a bit shaken. But the senior shufflers took both points on PMTC’s serve to go up 8-7 and the colonel’s disgust was palpable!

A Stern spectator & Masa Kumamoto
But consistent with Captain Stern’s prediction, Dan and Mike got a mini-break to even things at 8-8.Stern refused to make any predictions beyond that point however. FMRC went up 9-8, and the mid-day shuffle to the other side was on again. PMTC held their first service point to tie it at 9-9, but Steve and Jack took the second to reach match point at 10-9 with Steve serving.

Welter's down! Welter's down!
It was evident that neither side had intentions of giving up or going down, as that 10-9 point was a back and forth affair with digs, and lobs, and re-lobs, etc. In the end it took a knockdown to end this thing, when Mike Welter hit the deck going back for a final lob. He did all he could while sitting on the ground to return the ball over the net. It wasn’t enough, and the 70-somethings had their moment in the sun…literally!
FMRC will be heading to Daytona as the winners of the playoff, but the true winners were the spectators who witnessed the valiant efforts of the players on both teams. 
PMTC captain Jim Marks may have felt the sting of the loss, but he had to be proud of the fight his team showed. Chances are these two teams will meet again, and I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down to another match tiebreak to settle things.

Thanks to the captains who brought this scintillating playoff match to The Hideaway, and to the spectators who came out to cheer on the teams. It was a moment to remember. Game, set, match…T. A.


  1. As always entertaining to read. Sorry I missed the match.

  2. Thanks Andrea! Your responses are always appreciated :).