Wednesday, October 16, 2013


T' A's gear & outfit courtesy of Tennis R Us
No I did not get the license plate of the truck. Yes I am really in awe of Mike Stern who plays several hours of tennis daily. No my body didn’t feel like this after 5 ½ hour rounds of golf on four consecutive days. Yes, I still love the game of tennis…it just doesn’t love me back! In case you couldn’t tell, that was some vintage whine without the accompanying carefully aged cheese…

Small College National Championships

Lyn Bruner, Tournament Director with volunteers
Anna Straub, Barb & Dave Peirson 
Whining notwithstanding, it was a terrific weekend of tennis! It actually began for me with the USTA/ITA Small College National Championships at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park on Friday the 12th, where the vibrancy of youth, the sharpness of eye, the speed of 
foot, and sureness of hand and racquet made me, both, wistful and joyous. The visceral grunts, the screech of tennis shoes, and the sun beating down stimulated sensations of yesteryear, and made me glad that I live in this mecca of tennis.

I went down to Three Oaks on Saturday morning for 

Deni Zmak of Embry Riddle
Men's Super Bowl Champion
the finals as well, and watched some determined young players vie for their opportunity to play in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, to be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY from November 7-10. 

Valentine Confalonieri of Lynn Univ
Women's Super Bowl Champion
There isn’t much that I can tell you about the event itself that wasn’t covered by the fine work done by Stephanie Neppl, the ITA's Director of Communications. You can click here for the Final Day Recap, and if you are a Facebook aficionado, you can click here to see the good things the ITA is doing with college tennis.

USPTA Grand Prix at Landings
Paul D'Amico- Director of Tennis at
The Landings
Saturday also meant a return to the court as a competitor for me, and for a number of other locals as well, in the Fast Dry & 10S Tennis Supply USPTA Grand Prix at The Landings Yacht, Golf, & Tennis Club. Coming in, I had had a vigorous almost two weeks of preparation, and had expectations to match that preparation: uh, very low.

I was entered in the Men’s 50 Singles, Open Mixed 

Doubles with Erica Cossairt, and the Second Annual Pink and Blue 40 & Over Division with Steph. Piece of cake for a guy who worked on his golf game all summer, right :)? When it was all said and done, despite the aches, it was a blast!

I played much better on Saturday than I expected in 

Patricio Madariaga
beating Patricio Madariaga of Miami in straight sets (6-2, 6-3). I struggled to earn a win against Patricio in a deciding set tiebreak earlier this year in Delray Beach. I played pretty well, all things considered, in the final on Sunday as well, but my opponent, Carlos Triana, Director of Tennis at Williams Island, played even better.

Carlos was not at all troubled by my taking the first set 6-2, and he just stuck to his game plan, getting two breaks in the second set to take it 6-4. 
I went up 4-2 in the deciding set tiebreak, but Carlos battled back again, 
Carlos Triana savors win over T. A.
and we were at 7-7 when I made the mistake that sent the tennis gods over to Carlos’ side of the court: I went for an ill-advised, and poorly executed dropshot. Carlos served it out from there. It was an enjoyable match, and almost makes me think I'll be able to play decent tennis again...just almost though!

Mike Barnes
My showing wasn't too bad, but there were a couple of other locals who really did our community proud. In fact, my inability to play two full matches in two days, is really embarrassing when one considers what Mike Barnes of the Landings accomplished this past weekend.

Larry Gagnon & Mike Barnes
On Sunday, Mike played the Pro-Am at 8am, played his Men’s 60 Singles Semifinal at 11am, his Singles Final at 2pm, his Men’s 60 Doubles Final at 4pm, and his Men’s 50 Doubles Final around 6pm...and he's got me by a decade! Mike's a beast!

En route to his double victory in the Men’s 60 Singles 

Steve Shortridge & Gewan Maharaj
and Doubles, Mike downed Gewan Maharaj, last year’s 60 Singles Champ and the top Grand Prix point earner in that division for several years, in both Finals. In singles, Mike posted a 6-1, 6-3 victory, and in Doubles Mike and Larry Gagnon (formerly of Plantation, now at the Y at Punta Gorda Club) dispatched Gewan and local favorite Steve Shortridge of Colonial, who were seeded No.1, 6-0, 6-3.

Erica Cossairt
Mike wasn’t the only local who successfully defended home turf and recorded a double-event win. Erica Cossairt, most recently of Cape Coral Racquet Club, and now teaching independently, played the Women’s 45 Singles, and the Open Mixed Doubles events. Being the top seed in the singles, she didn’t play her first match against Karen Rembert of Boca Raton until Sunday morning. She outlasted Karen, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.
Carolyn Franca
Erica then went out and faced the ever-gritty, No.2 Seed, Carolyn Franca of Tampa. Last year the two battled in the Final with Erica coming away with the 6-4, 6-4 victory. This time around it was a bit more difficult for Erica, going 6-3, 2-6, 10-6…and she still had her Open Mixed Doubles Final to play. 

I had the honor of partnering Erica in the Mixed Doubles, and thanks to the aid of Advil, I was able to give her a bit of help in claiming her second title of the day. 

Brian Twente & Jordan Vaughan
We faced Jordan Vaughan and Brian Twente of Naples in the Final, and since Erica so loves the deciding tiebreak, we figured we’d spot them the first set and then make the dramatic comeback.

Not! The truth of it was that they beat us that first set 4-6, and we had to make some adjustments to get back in the match. We did make the adjustments to deal with Brian’s troublesome serve and Jordan’s blistering crosscourt forehand, and we took the second set 6-2, and then the tiebreak 10-5. I had to apologize to Brian for some boorish behavior, but other than that, it was a fun match.


Pro Am participants

Milos Vasovic, Karen Humphreys
 & Alex Hermeto, USPTA District 

14 President
One of the more enjoyable elements for the members of the Grand Prix host facilities is the Pro-Am tourney, where the members get to play with the pros who are participating in the Grand Prix. After seven rounds were played, and the scores were tallied, Karen Humphreys and Milos Vasovic were the Pro-Am Champions. 

2nd Annual Pink & Blue
Terry & Jan Carlson, Paul D'Amico,
Pat Monahan & Lori Emmons
The Landings was the site of more than the Grand Prix this past weekend. Tennis Director Paul D’Amico and his staff also hosted the Second Annual Pink & Blue Charity event, which sought to raise funds for chemotherapy chairs at Lee Memorial Regional Cancer Center. 

The Pink & Blue was a fun mixed doubles, round robin competition that was more about the fun than the least for Steph and me, and I’m pretty sure for Jeff and Debbie Coleman as well. 

Jeff & Deb Coleman
Eight teams played in the event and at the end of the three rounds, Lori Emmons and Pat Monahan emerged as the top team, and Jan and Terry Carlson claimed second.

I’m not sure how Steph and I did on the scoreboard but we did manage to win two out of three contests, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing together for the first time in competition. 

Pat Monahan & Lori Emmons
It was certainly a motivating experience because the next day Steph wanted to get out to work on her serve. We’ll be ready for em next year in the Pink & Blue!

Angie Guillette of Three Oaks Tennis
& Stephanie Neppl of ITA
As always, when I have a great weekend of tennis, I am grateful and I am obliged to express my gratitude to those who made it happen. 
Pat Glaunert of Three Oaks Tennis
I appreciate the work of Pat Glaunert, Angie Guillette, Lyn Bruner and the volunteers who contributed to the Small College Championship experience.

I am grateful to Paul D'Amico and his staff, as well as the participants in the Pink & Blue for the good time Steph and I had at the Landings.
Virgil Graves & Tim McClary- Hideaway
 members & event supporters
Thanks to the local tennis lovers who came out to support the events; thanks to Armor, Marius, and Jeff for getting me as ready as I could be for the weekend. Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank the numerous sponsors of the various events; nothing happens without the sponsors. 

Coming Up
On tap this weekend, as I mentioned in a previous post, is the LCCTA's Fall Festival L7 (Local) junior tournament at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center, at Three Oaks Park, from October 19 through 21. 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.

Stay tuned for a preseason look at Florida Gulf Coast University's Men's and Women's Tennis teams. That's up next! Until then, Game, set, match...T. A.

Note: Thanks to Steph, Virgil Graves, Mike Baldwin, Paul D'Amico and his staff for the photo contributions.

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