Saturday, January 4, 2014


Additional photos of the event can be viewed by clicking here
The Fast Dry Tennis Supply USPTA Grand Prix climaxed in typical Williams Island style November 23-24. Well, perhaps it wasn’t quite typical, as rain interrupted play for an extended period of time for the first time in the three years the Masters has been hosted by Director of Tennis Carlos Triana and his staff. 

Todd Ruedisili
The rain may have shortened some of the matches, an inconvenienced just about everyone, but it didn’t interfere with the topnotch jobs that Tournament Referee/Director Todd Ruedisili, Grand Prix Chairman Mike Baldwin, William’s Island’s pro shop and court maintenance staff did all weekend long to make the event happen.
Pro Am participants
As usual, the Club’s members were supportive, not just in participating in the Pro Clinic and Pro Am, but by coming out to the matches and cheering on the players. Some of the members, such as Jose Klahr of The Klahr Real Estate Team, even took on the role of sponsor. Outstanding!

Men’s Open Singles

Paulo Barros
But of course, it really is all about the tennis, isn’t it? And as far as the tennis went, it was a mixture of “long live the king,” and “there’s a new sheriff in town.” The former is represented by Paulo Barros, who continues to dominate the Men’s Open Division of the Grand Prix.

Paulo, standing atop the Open Division for the second consecutive year, topped off his impressive, record-setting season (1350 points) with a convincing victory at the Grand Prix Masters. After downing Erik Turnquist 6-2, 1-0 (retired), Paulo faced Franco Mata in the Final.

Franco Mata
Franco, with this flair for the dramatic still intact, downed archrival Tye Myers 4-6, 7-6, 1-0 in the semis, before encountering Paulo, his nemesis over the past two seasons, in the Final. With the wind swirling enough to make even these two splendid strikers of the ball shank myriad orbs outside the fence, Paulo prevailed in a fashion less dramatic than usual, earning the Masters Title 6-3, 6-2.
If we review points amassed, both Paulo and Franco were in classes by themselves, and were far and away the top two contenders in the Open Division this season. Second-place Franco (827 points) was more than 500 points behind Paulo, and Franco was more than 500 points ahead of the third-place finisher, Erik Turnquist (320). Barros and Mata finished No. 1 and No.2 respectively in Open Doubles as well.

Men’s 60 Singles

Mike Barnes
The “new sheriff in town” is in a division that almost qualifies for social security, but the top racqueteers in the Division play like they are totally unaware of that fact. The new sheriff happens to be Mike Barnes, who outgunned the old sheriff, Gewan Maharaj, the long-time dominating force in the Men’s 60 Division, 6-4, 7-5 in the semis.
Gewan Maharaj
Make no mistake, Gewan isn’t going away gently into that good night. Oh no, Gewan still finished atop the regular season standings with 601 points. Joe Bouquin, who has been campaigning for the “New Sheriff” title himself, finished second in the regular season race with 550 points, making the race for the top as close as it has been in years. Barnes finished third in the Division with 450. I suspect Mike will make a real run at it next season.
Joe Bouquin
Back to the tournament, Mike took on Joe Bouquin in the Final, and Barnes star must have been catching the sun just right, because Bouquin was just a bit dull out there, finally retiring with Mike up 5-0 in the first. No injury is desired, but if one has to come, 0-5 is about as good a time as any. I’d rather eat Advil than bagels any day!

Men’s 60 Doubles

Mike Barnes & Larry Gagnon
You might think that Barnes would be content to hightail it back to Fort Myers with his Singles Masters title, but you would be wrong if you thought that. Mike brought in Larry “The Legendary Wizard” Gagnon to help him claim the Doubles title as well, and that’s precisely what they did.
Shortened to 10-game pro sets because of the weather, Barnes and Gagnon didn’t drop a game in their semifinal against John Cook and Bill Davidson. In the Final, Gewan teamed with Steve Shortridge to exact a measure of retribution, but it wasn’t to be. Larry and Mike took the match 10-4. I’m guessing some folks might be hoping that Mike Barnes would just ride on to some other untamed territory. I s’pect he plans to stick pardners….

Men’s 50 Singles

Greg Neuhart
Greg Neuhart (816 points) finished atop the regular season standings in the Men’s 50 Singles, outdistancing second-place Horacio Rearte (410 points), another player bucking for “New Sheriff.” Horacio is a former Gold Ball winner, he and gave notice of his intentions in toppling Steve Bucar 6-1, 4-1 (ret) in the Singles semis. He would go on to meet Big Greg Neuhart in the Final.
Greg packing it in with Carlos
Although I laid claim to the top spot in the Division last season, finishing as the regular season points leader and Masters Champ, Greg had retaken what was his the previous season, dominating the regular season. He outlasted me in the semis, taking it 6-3, 6-7(6), 10-6. 

Greg started well in the Final against Horacio, but after going up 3-1, his back began to serve notice, and he decided that retiring would be the wise reply…especially since we were playing doubles together and he didn’t want me to go home empty handed (I’m sure that’s why he did it- wink).

Men’s 50 Doubles
After the Final, both Greg and Horacio noted that Greg had been playing well, and who knows how that might have gone… In any event, Greg and I met event host Triana and Williams Island Head Pro Patricio Madariaga in the Doubles Final. For some reason, in these, the latter stages of my tennis career, I cannot win a match in straight sets! Maybe Greg feels the same…

In any event, Greg and I moseyed out to a 6-3 first set, but next thing I knew we had dropped the second 3-6. The deciding set tiebreak was a nip and tuck affair, which wasn’t settled until the last three points. At 7-7, Greg played a monster point, running from side to side in the backcourt, before we claimed the point.
I liked our chances with Greg serving at 8-7 with me at net. He drew a return error for 9-7 and set me up for the match-winning volley. It was a doubles doozy, and we both left Williams Island as Masters Champions for the third year in a row (in a combination of singles and doubles events).

Men’s 45 Singles

Mario Tabares
Just in case you were thinking that the Fast Dry Tennis Supply USPTA Grand Prix only fields hackers like me, let me introduce you to the Masters Champ in the Men’s 45 Singles. Mario Tabares, former Cuban National Champion, Former Cuban Davis Cupper, and formerly ranked as high as No.131 on the ATP tour, won the Final over Frank Vermeer, 6-2, 6-2.
Frank Vermeer
How good is Mario? Well, Jeff Cohen has dominated Grand Prix competition in the 40’s Singles for years. He is in his first year of the 45s, and he lost to Vermeer, albeit in a tough one (7-6, 4-6, 3-10). I watched a bit of the Final, and Frank looked like he gave Mario more than a 2, 2 match, but 2 and 2 it was. Jack Steyn, a good player in his own right, lost to Tabares, 1 and 1.

Men’s 35 Singles

Milos Vasovic
Milos Vasovic has been “Da Man” in the Men’s 35 Singles Division for the past few years, and nothing changed in 2013. Milos posted 960 points to lead the Grand Prix race, 367 points ahead of second-place finisher Kam Kuchta. At the Masters, both Milos and Kam had tough semifinal battles.
Kam Kuchta
Milos dropped the first set against Chris Kader (3-6), before rebounding to take the second 6-1 and the tiebreak 10-6. Kam also dropped the first set to Mathieu Soto, but it was a hard-fought, 8-6-tiebreak. Kam wore Soto down with his dogged determination, taking the second 6-3, and closing out the breaker 10-4. In the final, Vasovic served even bigger than usual and was solid from the ground to take his first Masters Singles title defeating Kuchta 6-2, 7-5.

Men’s 40 Doubles
Mario Tabares & Xavier Proulx
Milos was entered in the Men’s Open Doubles, but rain and injury put the kibosh on that event. However, Kam was entered in the Men’s 40 Doubles with Horacio, the Men’s 50 Singles Champ. Kam and Horacio ran into the duo of Jeff Cohen and Frank Vermeer in the semis, and took it to the deciding set tiebreak, but fell 1-6, 7-6 (4), 1-0 (3).

Due to weather, the Final was truncated to a 10-game pro-set and Mario Tabares and Xavier Proulx proved too strong, claiming the 2013 40 Doubles Masters Championship over Cohen and Vermeer 10-4.

Women’s 35 Singles & 40 Doubles

Erica Cossairt
The Greater Fort Myers-Naples area fielded a representative in the women’s competition as well, with Erica Cossairt of Cape Coral participating in Women’s 35 Singles and 40 Doubles. Anyone who knows 

Erica knows that she is as game as they come (see her effort in the ITF $50k Wildcard event at South Seas last month), but the competition was just a bit too tough. Erica got past Sandy Bell without dropping a game in the rain-shorted event (8-0), but she ran into tenacious veteran Susie Brown in the Final, dropping that match 3-8.
Susie Brown
Susie had managed to get her full semifinal match in, downing Suzanne Siegler 6-0, 6-1. It took her just two more games to win the two sets than it took her to down Erica in a pro set. Susie was just on her game! She teamed with Cindy LePrevost in the Women’s 40 Doubles, and walked away with a victory there as well.
Susie & Cindy LeProvost
Susie and Cindy are a seasoned and proven winning team, and they edged first-time partners Erica and Elizabeth Burger 8-6 in the semis, before going on to defeat Carolyn Franca and Sabita Maharaj 8-3 in the Final.

Women's 45 Singles
Elizabeth didn’t go home empty-handed, however. She also participated in the Women’s 45 

Elizabeth Burger
Singles, and she received a semifinal walkover, when Christie Bradley was unable to play, and downed Carolyn Franca 8-4 in the abbreviated Final. Carolyn had prevailed over Sabita, her 40-Doubles partner, in their semifinal match 8-4.


Carlos, Jennefer Soto, & Juliet Bryan
I’m sure I speak for all the participants when I offer major thanks to Carlos Triana and all the Williams Island staff for hosting another terrific event, to the members who have been so tremendously supportive 

Mike Baldwin & Family
these past three years, to Todd Ruedisili who has put it countless tournament officiating hours, and to Mike Baldwin for the job he did all year making the Grand Prix happen!


And of course, since nothing happens without event sponsors, we must express our gratitude to the folks at Fast Dry Courts & 10-S Tennis Supply, who are the title sponsors for the entire Grand Prix Circuit. Other season-long Grand Prix sponsors include USPTA and USTA Florida, Welch Tennis Courts, and Stan Oley Tennis Equipment & Service, and Giliberti, Inc.

Williams Island Masters event sponsors included 
Parksman Parking, J. Klahr Real Estate Team, Estrel Wellness Centers and Bal Harbour Bouari Clinic, Transformational Outsourcing, SoBlo – blow dry salon and CitiBank Aventura office.

Hopefully I'l be in attendance at this terrific event next year. Game, set, match...T. A.
T. A.'s gear courtesy of Tennis R Us

No comments:

Post a Comment