Wednesday, September 25, 2013


October, the kickoff month to “Season,” promises to be a busy and exciting tennis month in the Greater Fort Myers tennis community. We have a college event, a junior event, a USPTA Grand Prix event, the beginning of the Pro League, Lee County Women’s Tennis League (LCWTL), and the first fundraiser for cancer of the season…and trust me, that’s not all that’s happening as we blast our way into the 2013 – 2014 season.

Frank Fourgeau
New Pro League Commissioner
The tennis blog will be moving into a new home sometime this month; Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has welcomed Courtney Vernon, their new Women’s Tennis Head Coach; The Pro League leadership has changed from the capable hands of Jim Katterfield (now at The Strand in Naples) to Frank Fourgeau’s (Gulf Harbour), who certainly brings some “Allstate” hands of his own…And still there’s more!

Paul D'Amico & Kim Jones running the show at
The Landings
We have new tennis professionals in town, and some who have been here for some time have shifted locales; The Landings, under the direction of Paul D’Amico continues to lead the way with a number of quality events on tap; Three Oaks Tennis, with Pat Glaunert and 
Angie Guillette
Angie Guillette at the helm, continues to emerge as a force in the public tennis domain; and I am joining forces with the Davids at Tennis R Us in the development of a comprehensive new tool that is likely to make our community the envy of tennis communities everywhere! Yes, there is plenty to look forward to in Fort Myers tennis this coming season!

Armor Persons
I will cover as much as I can as this season, but with a growing membership and several new teams at The Hideaway, assisting Armor Persons at Breckenridge, and the new affiliation with Tennis R Us, things promise to be quite hectic for me this season. With all of the above said, let’s get to what’s happening, in order of occurrence.

SWF Regional Team Tennis Challenge
Paris Thompson in junior tourney at
Three Oaks
The Southwest Florida Regional Team Tennis Challenge, a fun, competitive team event for juniors will be held this coming weekend, September 28-29 at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park. Thirteen (13) teams from Lee and Collier counties, Englewood and Miami will compete, beginning at 8:00am on Saturday.

Alex Bernard at Three Oaks
Divisions include four teams in the 10 and Under Advanced Division, five teams in the 14 and Under Intermediate Division, and four teams in the 16 and Under Intermediate Division. Teams will compete in a round robin format, which includes Boys Singles, Girls Singles and Mixed Doubles. Come on out and cheer on the future of tennis. You can find out more about the Challenge by clicking here.

USPTA Grand Prix at Landings
Grand Prix Chair Mike Baldwin figures things out
Two weeks after the Challenge, October 12 through 14, Paul D’Amico and The Landings Yacht Golf and Tennis Club are hosting the USPTA Florida Grand Prix. You may remember that the Grand Prix is a series of tournaments held across the State for USPTA Professionals.
Steve Shortridge plays in pro am
 Among our most active participants are Steve Shortridge of Colonial and Armor Persons of Breckenridge. I managed to finish atop the Men’s 50 Singles and Doubles rankings in 2012, but haven’t played an event since March or April of this year. I don’t expect much, but I suppose I’ll give it a go at the Landings next Month.

Second Annual Pink & Blue
2012-13 Pink & Blue participants
Perhaps even more importantly, the Second Annual Pink & Blue Mixed Doubles fundraiser will be held during the Grand Prix event. Last year’s Pink & Blue raised a $1,000 for Lee Memorial Hospital, and D’Amico is hoping for an event greater contribution to purchase a Chemotherapy Chair this year. Events for the event include 40 and over, 50 and over, 60 and over and 70 and over.

According D’Amico, “We did this event last year on a different date, but felt that this year we could combine the two and have both pros and amateurs at the same venue to make it a fun time and gain more spectators.” Paul anticipates registering the Annual Pink & Blue Mixed Doubles fundraiser among the National USPTA Lessons for Life events. The entry deadline for the Pink & Blue is October 8, at 5pm. You can call 239-482-0515 for additional information, and you can view and print the registration form by clicking here.

USTA/ITA National Small College Championships
John Ziegler plays with Gator player
during pro am at College Shootout
at Three Oaks Park, Jan. 2013
The action continues at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center on Oct 10 through 13 when the Small College (NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College) Singles and Doubles champions from the USTA/ITA Regional Championships descend on Fort Myers to play the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. The USTA/ITA National Small College Championship is the only national championship event for singles and doubles at the NCAA Division II and NAIA levels. It is also the only tournament that combines all levels of Junior/Community College (NJCAA Divisions I and III and the California division).

Courtney, Stacy, and Jason Sherman,
Diamond District Sponsors of College Shootout
at Three Oaks Park,  Jan. 2013
According to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) website, the Singles and Doubles champions at each divisional level will then compete to become the overall “Super Bowl” champions. The "Super Bowl" champions earn wild cards into the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships with the opportunity to win the culminating event held at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Dave Peirson plays with Georgia Tech player
during pro am at College Shootout
at Three Oaks Park, Jan. 2013
Watch for details of a VIP event, where local players may get the opportunity to hit with some of these talented intercollegiate players. Volunteers are needed throughout the weekend, and interested parties should contact LCCTA Executive Director, Lyn Bruner, at 239-482-3382. Spectators are invited to this free event.

Southwest Florida Pro League Debuts
I will be devoting an entire post to a Pro League preview, but that will take more time than I have at the moment. I did want to remind you that the newly dubbed, Southwest Florida Pro League, sponsored by Ritzman Tennis will make its first stop at Palmira Golf & Country Club in Bonita Springs (get directions here) on Friday, October 18, at 4pm. Stay tuned for team rosters, and match schedules. I should have those up before the end of the week.

Junior Tourney at Three Oaks
Things sure are hopping at Three Oaks Park, because one week after the collegians do their thing, the LCCTA will hold the Fall Festival L7 (Local) junior tournament at the Manzo Tennis Center, from October 19 through 21. 

Tourney Director Lyn Bruner assists parent &
player at Three Oaks
Events will include Boys and Girls 16s through 12s, and Boys and Girls 10 and Under, with orange balls on a 60-foot court. Players can register for the event now by clicking here. The entry deadline is Thursday, October 17, at midnight.

Summer Kudos
FMRC 7.5 Combo Team
Fort Myers Racquet Club outlasted Park Meadow Tennis Center in a thrilling USTA Men’s 7.5, 50-and-over combo playoff to earn the right to represent our community in Daytona. It was a tremendous battle in the final match, which ended 11-9 in the set tiebreak (you can get details and photos here).

Cypress Lake 6.5 Combo Team
After winning the USTA Florida Summer 6.5 Women’s Combo 18 & Over Division, Cypress Lake took on Paseo, the Fall League winner. Cypress swept all three courts, with Tracy DiBiase and Christina Beale downing Barbara Lucas and Venita Winslett on Court 1; Lenora Lee and Emily Swanhild Mora squeaking by Cynthia Dietz and Amy Newton on Court 2, and Judy Wilson and Jenny McDermott taking two straight from Brenda McEwing and Remilda Myers on Court 3.

More members of Cypress Lake's 6.5 team
Judy Wilson was busy this summer, as she also played on a Landings team which is scheduled to represent us in Daytona. The Landings took the USTA Florida Summer 7.5 Women’s Combo 18 & Over Division, and faced off against Plantation, the Fall winner, and the team that had given them their only loss, which came in the final match of the season. The Landings ladies were ready for the playoff though, and Lilli Canfield and Deb Fairbanks beat Maria Coleman and Joan Lake on Court 1, while Judy Wilson and Lori Emmons beat Rena Gezzar and Nathalie Morzaniga on Court 2 to seal the victory. Plantation took Court 3. 

Cypress lake also has a 7.0 Combo 40 & Over team going to Daytona, after they edged Fort Myers Racquet Club in a thriller last weekend. Jenny M Macdermott and Kevin C. Buckley cruised to a straight-set win over Ruth Irvin and Roosevelt Kerr on Court 1, but the other two matches went to the deciding set tiebreak. On Court 2, Tracy DiBiase and Roy McDermott outlasted Monica Ruggieri and Tim McClary in a really tight one (5-7, 7-5,  ), and Laura Deluca and Robert DiBiase edged Virginia Nicodemi and Craig Aberbach in another deciding tiebreak.

Katrina Ramsey of Kelly Greens
Katrina Ramsey’s Kelly Greens 9.0 Mixed Combo has been the dominant force at that level and they will be heading to Daytona to represent our area. Kelly Greens won both the fall and summer seasons, and had to play themselves to determine who would be going to Daytona. They will be taking a strong team to that competition, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they brought home the fuzzy bacon. 

Larry Albritton
Larry Albritton, an assistant pro at Heritage Palms won the Men's 5.0 Singles; Brittany Wadsworth of Cape Coral Yacht & Racquet Club took the Women's 4.5 Singles; Sean Simmons of Rutenberg Park won Men's 4.0 Singles; Jim Haffner and Andrew Mikulaschek claimed the Men's 4.0 Doubles while Amy Johnson and Danielle Cardinale took the Women's 3.5 Doubles in their first season of Ultimate Tennis play. 

Kim Mai & Sandy Devins
It was in the Mixed Doubles divisions that our area dominated. Jane Zito and Sean Simmons of Rutenberg Park won the 4.0 Division; Kim Mai of Cape Coral, one of my most delightful students, teamed with Jim Bremer of Matlacha to take the 3.5 Division; and Daniela Aguirre-Lugones partnered with husband Fernando Lugones to capture the 3.0 Division.   

Musical Pros
Ex-Commish Jim Katterfield
You are familiar with musical chairs, right? Well here's the tennis professional version. One of the most significant moves for our community is Mike Baldwin's leaving the east coast to take the leadership position at Mediterra. That should definitely been perceived as a coups! Tyler Owens has moved up north, and Jeff Diggs is looking for someone at Fiddlesticks; Larry Gagnon has gone from Plantation to Punta Gorda YMC;, Shawn Hedrick has left the Strand in Naples and is now at Wilderness, also in Naples; Jim Katterfield has left Shadow Wood to assume the directorship at the Strand, West Bay is looking for a pro, and on, and on…I’m sure we will hear about a few more changes before season is fully underway.

Club Updates
Terry See
It's always good to know what's going on with local clubs. Two pros answered my call this time around: Armor Persons of Breckenridge and Terry See of Cypress Lake Country Club. This summer, Breckenridge replaced four of their courts with new hydro courts built by Ritzman Courts. According to Armor, Breckenridge members are excited about playing their league matches on the new courts. Plans are to convert the remaining four courts in two phases in the near future.

The Hideaway
Of course I can report on The Hideaway, and the administration continued its efforts to upgrade our facility this summer, contracting with Armor Persons of Court Masters Tennis Services to replace the lines on all four courts. With the continued monthly maintenance Armor provides, our courts should be in great shape for the upcoming season.

Terry See has grown the membership at Cypress Lakes Country Club tremendously over the past couple of years, and he is now in need of someone who would be able to do light court maintenance in the early morning, and to work in tennis shop until about noon, two or three days per week. If interested, please email Terry at or call 239- 851-6663.

Interesting Tidbit
Alan Sweet
Phew! I’m about done in folks. I think I’ll just end with a little human interest story. In sharing information about the LCCTA with me, Lyn Bruner also sent along this little nugget: Alan Sweet, a sophomore at Baron Collier High School in Naples, and currently ranked No.19 in USTA Florida’s Boys’ 16s, comes by his tennis talent naturally. Alan’s maternal grandfather, Mr. Atsushi Miyagi, who lives in Japan, won the US Open Doubles in 1955. Mr. Miyagi was at the US Open this year, where he was able to view his name, listed among all US Open winners, for the first time. Pretty neat huh? I thought so anyway :).

Well, I hope you are looking forward to the upcoming season as much as I am. I think it is going to be tremendous, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it. As always, thanks to folks like Steph, Judy Wilson, Lyn Bruner, Terri Destoppelaire, and others who provided photos and information used in this post. Until soon- game, set, match...T. A.