Friday, January 31, 2014


Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
There is a ton of great tennis on the horizon for this weekend, and it’ll be right in our backyard at Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) tennis courts. I hope the Australian Open merely whet your appetite for all the tennis that is to come in the very near future. Before I go any further and forget, let me thank Linwood Ferguson for the use of his fantastic photos (see more here)

Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
“How near?” you might ask. Well how about tomorrow, and Sunday? The ladies play tomorrow (Sat. 2pm) against Florida International (FIU) and both the ladies and men toe the service line on Sunday (1pm), against Bethume Cookman (BC). I'm told that World No.22 Kevin Anderson will be on hand for Sunday's matches. The men are back in action at home next Friday against No.28 Auburn (7th at 5pm), and at home again on the 22nd (Sat. 5pm) against Florida A & M (FAMU).

Johanna Sterkel
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
What can you expect if you get down to FGCU’s courts this weekend…and every time out for that matter? Sizzling shots, gritty, gutsy grinding, and just tremendous tennis regardless of gender. The ladies gave us a taste of what to expect when they saved the day at the Naples-Fort Myers Challenge last fall, and so did the guys. So far this season, the guys have a little catching up to do, as the ladies are off to a really nice start.

Lady Eagles Soar
Coach Courtney Vernon- Fierce but not mean
Just recently at their Spring Invitational (Jan. 18-20), the Lady Eagles, under the direction of first-year coach Courtney Vernon, swept the singles competition. How did they do that? By any “Means” necessary. Sisters Sarah and Elizabeth Means won the A and B Singles competition, and Candela Munoz took the C Singles event.

Elizabeth "By Any" Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood
I did mention gritty, gutsy grinding above, didn’t I? What would you call pulling out an 18-16 match tiebreak? Uh huh, that’s what Elizabeth Means did in her final…by any means necessary! FGCU Athletics Communication AssistantSarah Roberts, is doing a superb job previewing and recapping both the Men’s and Women’s events, and she gave a better recap than I could of the event. Check it out here.

Sarah "By All" Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood
Sweeping the singles was no “mean” feat, as the Lady Eagles went up against Iowa State, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and Northwestern State University (Louisiana). 
The ladies didn’t have the same success in doubles, as Sarah and Elizabeth couldn’t find the means to come away with that title. Ok, ok, enough with the name thing. Just couldn’t resist :).

Breana Stamfli
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Since that triumphantly soaring weekend for the Lady Eagles, they took out Louisiana Tech (5-2) at home on the 24th (see recap here), and dropped a close one to University of Central Florida (UCF), 3-4, on the 25th. That one came down to a nail-biter with freshman Breana Stampfli, my countrywoman from Trinidad, losing 8-10 in the match tiebreak (see Sarah’s recap here).

Gentlemen Eagles about to Launch
Jordi Vives & Dean Tsamas
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
It has been a turbulent start for the guys, who are sitting at 0-3 after facing some tough competition. But they have been getting better, losing a heartbreaker (3-4) against Southern Methodist (SMU) last Friday at home (view recap here). Even that loss was progress, as the Eagles fell 1-6 to SMU last season. They were within a few points of claiming victory this time around, and the Eagles were the epitome of effort despite the disappointment.

Lance Lvovsky & Tianyu Bao
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles 0-3 start is not reflective of their team caliber nor their character on court. They lost 1-6 at the then undefeated, No.35 Florida State (FSU) in the season-opener (view recap here). But that loss, against a top-35 team which is 9-1 (loss to 3-4 to No.38 TCU), was a gain from last season when they lost 0-7. In their next match, the Eagles lost 2-5 to No.60 Nebraska, a team that also lost to FSU, winning just one more point than our Eagles.

Coach C.J. Weber
When the guys take to the courts on Sunday at FGCU, they will be looking to claim their first win of the season against BC, a team they beat 5-2 on the road last season. Their match against No.28 Auburn on the 7th will be challenging without doubt, but I expect the Eagles, under the indomitable spirit of Coach C. J. Weber, will battle the Tigers tooth and nail to pull off the upset.

Adrian Reid
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Man! FGCU tennis is exciting! Two enthusiastic, young, but savvy coaches, really classy, gutsy players, outstanding competition, and a growing fan base…it doesn’t get much better than that combination folks. Come check out the new players and reunite with the veterans. I'll give you your money back if you don't enjoy it! I’ll be down there this weekend to enjoy the action and I hope to see you there. 

For Your Calendar
Oh, just in case I don’t get a chance to do another post in the near future, don’t forget to put the FineMark Tennis Classic at Bonita Bay, February 28 – March 1, and Madisen’s Match at The Landings, March 28 & 29 on your calendars. These are two of the primary charity events in the area and both feature former and current ATP and WTA professionals, including Grand Slam winners. Don’t want to miss these. Hopefully I can find the time and energy to go into more detail as the times draw nigh, but in case I don’t, but of the above links will fill you in nicely.

That’s it for me for now. Until next, game, set, match…T. A.

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