Friday, November 8, 2013


The Southwest Florida Pro League made its regular season debut this past Friday, November 1 at Gulf Harbour, As usual the crowd at Gulf Harbour was outstanding, not just in size but in enthusiasm and participation. 
Standing room only!
If the spectators weren’t getting hit with tennis balls they were heckling players, good naturedly of course, and basically just having a good time…and that, my friends is what Pro League is about: the spectators having a good time.

Of course the players are out there to have a good time as well, and the spectators make that possible, even when you're playing as sadly as I did last week...but let's not go there. I want to keep this positive :). So what went down at engagement No.1?

ProGraphx vs. Johnny Malloy’s
Court 1

Mike Curran & Manuel Encalada
The “ole dawg” Mike Curran (Gulf Harbour), ProGraphx captain, teamed with Manny “The Machine” Encalada (Cascades) to grab the straight set win against the talented duo of Sergio Rebolledo (Gulf Harbour), 
Sergio Rebolledo & Ryan Sherry
Johnny Malloy’s captain, and Ryan Sherry (Cypress Lake). I had someone willing to bet me that the young’uns would prevail against the old-timer. I can’t wait to collect on that 6-4, 6-3 Curran-Encalada win. 

In any event, 6-4, 6-3 might be straight sets, but it wasn’t an easy straight-set victory. The little of the match that I saw was characterized by quite a bit of what I call “modern doubles,” something you won’t see much on the ATP Tour, but you will see just about everywhere else.
Modern doubles is the one up, one back style of play with two players hitting crosscourt groundstrokes while their partners wait for an opportunity to get in the game. Unlike “traditional doubles” these points can go on for quite some time, making a 6-4, 6-3 score feeling like a three-setter.

Court 2

Jeff Solomon & Joel Hampton
The old-timers didn’t prevail on Court 2, as Johnny Malloy’s Joel Hampton (The Quarry) and Jeff Solomon (unaffiliated), new to Pro League this season, downed Patrick Kangwa (Rapallo) and I (The Hideaway) in straight sets. 
T. A. & Patrick Kangwa
The two points It wasn’t as though Patrick and I didn’t have our opportunities, losing the first set in a tiebreak, and having three chances to go up a double break in the second. 
I like to say that when opportunity knocks, you better answer or she’ll go next door. That was the case as Joel and Jeff never looked back after that hold at 2-4, posting a point for JM with the 7-6, 6-4 win. Perhaps if we had tried some modern doubles we would have eked out a win. More like it, if I had gotten one single return in the court, facing three second serves on those three break points, we may have had a better chance.

Court 3

Todd Wise & Matt Maloney
Todd Wise (Legends) and Matt Maloney (Vivante) played what might be the match of the event, going three full sets with Jeff Diggs (Fiddlesticks) and Mike Stevens (sub). You’ve got to give it to Mike Stevens, who isn’t a full time tennis professional, but gets in there and competes like one. I still owe Mike a beating from last year! 
Jeff Diggs & Mike Stevens
In any event, Todd and Matt took the first set 6-3, and lost a close second set 5-7. Evidently things were only just heating up, because the third set went to a tiebreak, and unlike their Court 2 teammates, Todd and Matt took the tiebreak to post two points for ProGraphx. JM got 1/2 rather than a full point for the set Jeff and Mike won, because of Mike’s sub status.

Court 4

Pat & Oliver, Larry & Armor
Our ProGraphx squad has a definite edge on Court 4 with Oliver Stenger (Park Meadow) and Pat Glaunert (Three Oaks) holding down the fort for us. Oliver has had success on Court 2 in previous years, and was pretty dominant last season with Larry Gagnon at his side. Pat is new to the League, but certainly an old hand at playing the game. 

Armor Persons (Breckenridge) and Larry Albritton (Heritage Palms) had a tough time staying in the game with Oliver and Pat, getting just three games in the two sets. I suspect the 6-1, 6-2 score might have been a bit deceiving, because both Armor and Larry know what they are doing on a doubles court. I’m guessing Pat and Oliver had too much firepower for the 60-plus guys.

Mixed Doubles

Terry See & Angie Guillette
Speaking of firepower, ProGraphx’s Angie Guillette (Three Oaks) brings plenty of that, and teamed with the wisdom of Terry See (Cypress Lake), they make a tough duo. Erica Cossairt (unaffiliated) and Bob Green (Pelican Preserve) weren’t able to overcome the combination, despite being a talented team in their own right. 
Bob Green & Erica Cossairt
Angie and Terry won 6-2, 6-4, posting two more points for ProGraphx, and bringing the total earned on Friday to eight points, and establishing the early season lead. But the lead after one match doesn’t mean much and the other two teams aren’t too far behind.
Boston Retirement Advisors (BRA) vs. Harborside Dental (HD)
Court 1
Denny Rager & Scott Harrington
Unlike the Court 1 match above, youth prevailed for Harborside Dental when Jared Kalpin (West Bay) and Jimmy Martineau (Heritage Palms), a first year pro leaguer, took out Denny Rager (Lely) and Scott Harrington (Shadow Wood), as seasoned a Court 1 team as you’ll find in our Pro League. That was a huge win for HD and a well-earned two points. 

The fact that Jared and Jimmy downed Deny and Scott in two sets, 6-4, 6-4, was also a bit of a surprise to me, if not to anyone else. If this youthful duo stays together it will be interesting to see how they perform against the other two teams in the fray. It may be a while before we see that though, since either Jared or Jimmy should be partnering Shawn Hedrick next Pro League.

Court 2

Frank Fourgeau
In the other match that warranted “Match of the Day” honors, the two teams likely to lead the way on Court 2 this season (fired up yet Joel? wink) battled each other well into the evening. In the end, Luke Andreae (Punta Gorda Club) and Elliott DeBolt (The Vines) notched two points for HD in three tough sets. 

Luke and Elliott dropped the first set 4-6 to BRA Captain Frank Fourgeau (Gulf Harbour) and Corey Knapp (Fiddlesticks), one of the top duos on Court 2 last season, but they bounced back to claim the second set by the identical score. The tiebreak was every bit as close, with Luke and Elliott taking it 10-8.

Court 3
John Jerome (Wildcat Run) and Anthony Hatori (Pelican Sound), both Court 2 players last season, had some stiff competition from Larry “The Legendary Wizard” Gagnon (unaffiliated) and Paul D’Amico (Landings), both Court 3 players last season. 

Paul was stepping up from his spot on Court 4 this season to fill in for Mike Barnes (Landings), and almost pulled it off. However, John and Anthony took won the first set in a tiebreak and won the second set 6-4, posting two points for HD. 

Court 4 Alex Hermeto (Gateway) and Dave Dooley (Shadow Wood) downed Mike Lawver (Heritage Palms) and Jeff Timmer (Colonial) 6-2, 6-1, scoring two more points for BRA. The depth of the Pro League is truly obvious when you take a look at this court, with players who played Courts 2 and 3 as recently as last season battling on Court 4. 

Mixed Doubles

Kerry Kendrick & Steve Shortridge
Kerry Kendrick (Casa Ybel) has been playing some pretty good tennis the past several months and seems to be getting better. Her partner Steve Shortridge (Colonial) may or may not agree, but I bet he was happy to be paired with her for BRA in their win against John Ramsey (Kelly Greens) and Kim Jones (Landings). 
John Ramsey & Kim Jones
John and Kim dropped the first set 1-6, but made a match of it in the second set. However, steady Steve and crushing Kerry were just a bit much to overcome, and they closed out the second 6-4, for two more BRA points.

It was a good beginning to the Southwest Florida Pro League, but it wasn't the usual extended affair with almost every match going to a deciding set tiebreak. In fact, only two of the 10 matches played went to a third set. I expect things to return to normal before long, as players get back into the Pro League flow. When all was said and done, the standings after our first date is ProGraphx (8), Harborside Dental (6), Boston Retirement Advisors (5); Johnny Malloy's (2.5). 

Gulf Harbour staff at work
As usual, thanks to the host facility, to those of you who came out to cheer on your favorite players, and to the sponsors who help make it all happen. In addition to the team sponsors, additional sponsors include:
Joe Pavich Jr. Realty, Lamar, McGregor Dental, Prawnbroker/University Grill, Priceless Realty, and Tennis R Us. Next stop for the Southwest Florida Pro League will be Friday, November 15th at Pelican Landing. Hope to see you there. Game, set, match...T. A.
T. A.'s tennis gear provided
by Tennis R Us in Bonita Springs

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