Sunday, January 5, 2014


Click here for additional photos of the event
If you made it out to the ATP Pro Doubles Exhibition at Mediterra Saturday December 21st, then I’m betting you had a really enjoyable 90 minutes of tennis. If you didn’t, then I’m going to suggest that you 

make sure you reserve a spot if Mike Baldwin the new Director of Tennis at Mediterra puts on another such exhibition. If you don’t believe me, then talk to Virgil Graves, Gale Caron, Kim Mai or Peggy Voss and you can take their words for it.
It wasn’t just the very entertaining tennis that made the morning worthwhile…after all, you expect great tennis from ATP professionals in the top-50 in the world, right? It was the Mediterra environment, the coliseum seating, the well-manicured grounds, and the enthusiastic spectators that augmented the tennis itself.
Wolfgang Diehl
As anyone who has attended an exhibition knows, in addition to the on-court showmanship, the person in the chair can make or break the event, and Wolfgang Diehl surely did his part to make the event an entertaining success. It’s a fine line to walk between enhancing the show and trying to become the show, and Wolfgang did a really nice job.
Jeff Coetzee
But how about the show itself? Well, the field was stellar! Although the other players may not agree, 36-year-old Jeff Coetzee stole the on-court show, demonstrating why he, among the participants, had climbed the highest in the ATP rankings (No.12 in doubles in 2008) thus far. Of course, the other participants, being younger, may yet surpass him. But as an old guy myself, I was tickled.

Alejandro Falla
More than likely, the crowd favorite was 30-year-old Alejandro Falla, who reached a career high ATP singles ranking of No.48 in 2012, and who now sits at No.99 on the ATP Tour. Falla’s dad, Jorge Falla, teaches in Naples and the Naples area is home to the Fallas outside of their native Columbia. The other players who participated includes the following:
Juan Sebastian Cabal
Twenty-seven-year-old Juan Sebastian Cabal, currently No.43 in the world in doubles, and a former French Open Doubles Finalist with Eduardo Schwank in (2011), defeating the Bryan Brothers in the semis;

Twenty-six-year-old Robert Farah, who is currently ranked No.48 in the world in doubles. If you are paying attention to the tune-ups for the 

Robert Farah
Australian Open starting on the 13th, you may already know that Cabal and Farah beat Roger Federer and Nicolas Mahut (he of Wimbledon fame) in the semis at Brisbane, before losing to Daniel Nestor and Mariusz Fyrstenberg in a tough Final (7-6, 4-6, 7-10). 
Robert Farah & Juan Sebastian Cabal
No shame there, as Nestor happens to hold eight Grand Slam doubles titles, has held the No.1 doubles ranking numerous times, and Fyrstenberg is a perennial top-tenner in doubles;
Carlos Salamanca
Thirty-year-old Carlos Salamanca hasn’t achieved the doubles heights attained by Cabal and Farah, but he has reached as high as No.137 in singles;

Nicolas Barrientos
Twenty-six-year-old Nicolas Barrientos, whose doubles ranking jumped almost 100 points in 2013 (up to No.135), appears to be on his way up the ATP doubles ladder;
Sebastian Serrano
Twenty-six-year-old Sebastian Serrano, a former member of the Colombian Davis Cup team, and Nestor Nuñez, Director of Ultra Tennis Academy in Naples, and former FGCU standout. I believe, Nestor and the South African Coetzee were the only players at the event who were not Colombian Davis Cuppers at some point.

Despite the fantastic tennis, the real thrill for me was the joy reflected on the faces of the kids who hit with the pros after the exhibition. Cost of food for the exhibition? $xxx. Appearance fees for the pros? $yyy. The looks on the faces of those kids as they came off the court? Priceless!

Those pros will go on to entertain many a fan, Mike Baldwin will receive well deserved kudos from his members for the event, but none of those children will forget the moments they 

spent on court hitting with Tour professionals Nicolas Barrientos and Sebastian Serrano, while the spectators encouraged and applauded them. Yes, those moments after the exhibition were more than icing on the cake; it was the cake for me.

I believe most of those future stars were products of 
Nuñez' Ultra Tennis Academy, which is based at Mediterra. Nestor and his brother Hernan were the driving forces behind the event.

Mike Baldwin & Tim Keegan with birds eye view
The bottom line? Chances are slim that you could have fielded a higher quality group for an exhibition event in our neck of the woods, and those of us who attended are certainly grateful. 

Sponsor Ted Todd (left) enjoys front row seat
Thanks to Mike, his Mediterra members and staff, and especially to the event sponsors: Ted Todd Insurance, Riverchase Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Naples Motor Sports, ConMed Corp, and APS Pool Service. Your contributions were greatly appreciated. Game, set, match...T. A.
T. A.'s gear courtesy of Tennis R Us

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