Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Madisen’s Match
Madisen's Match 2013
Photo courtesy of Gale Van Rossem
As you probably already know, the 5th Annual Madisen’s Match, hosted by The Landings Yacht, Golf & Tennis Club (LYGTC), is coming up this Friday and Saturday (March 28 & 29). This is one of the area’s premier charity tennis events, replete with dinner and auction, 
Pro with local Kim Mai at
Madisen's Match 2013
former ATP Tour professionals providing clinic instruction and playing exhibitions, and a Pro Am event. Proceeds from the event go toward building a playroom at the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Click the link above for the complete story. The Landings is located at 4425 South landings Drive in Fort Myers.

FGCU Tennis
FGCU vs Troy @ Three Oaks
Before you join the Madisen’s Match festivities on Friday evening, you have the opportunity to join Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) growing, tennis fan base in cheering on both the men’s and women’s teams. Both the men and lady Eagles will host Georgia’s Kennesaw State University Owls at 11am at FGCU’s home courts.

Bettina Botha & Coach Vernon
Win or lose, both teams play with an intensity characteristic of their coaches, C. J. Weber (men) and Courtney Vernon (women). The ladies will be seeking to
Coach Weber with
Lance Lvovsky & Tianyu Bao
improve upon their 9-7 overall and 2-2 A-Sun Conference records under dynamic, first-year-coach Vernon. The guys will be working to even their conference record at 2-2, and to close to within one game of .500 on the season.

T. A. & Coach Weber
Photo courtesy of Steph
If you don’t make it on Friday, both squads will be back in action on Saturday (29th) at 6pm against another conference foe, the Mercer Bears, also of Georgia. 

If you follow basketball, you may know that the men’s basketball Bears knocked our Eagles off in the A-Sun Conference Final, denying the Eagles an NCAA berth. Our guys can’t feel too bad as Mercer toppled the vaunted Duke Blue Devils in Round 2 of the Big Dance. Our tennis Eagles can dish out a bit of payback on Saturday.

You can follow the Lady Eagles here and the Gentleman Eagles here. The FGCU campus is located at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. in Fort Myers, just south of Gulf Coast Town Center. 

Play Day at Three Oaks
Angie Guillette &
Stephanie Neppl of ITA
Per Angie Guillette, there are happenings for the kids this weekend as well. This Saturday (29th) from 1 - 4pm, players 5 – 12 years-old can participate in RED, ORANGE & GREEN ball competition, or skills challenges for the red ball court. 
These play days help youngsters transition from skill development to competition in a less threatening way. The cost for the event is $10 and includes snacks and drinks for the players. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Angie Guillette at 239-989-4388 or angie@threeoakstennis.com

The event will be at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park, 18251 Three Oaks Parkway, Ft. Myers. You can click here to sign up or copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://www.courtsideusa.com/communities/fort_myers_area/event/76299/2014-03-29-1300/.

SCCF Tournament
The 22nd Annual SCCF Tennis Tournament will be held at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, April 5 – 6, 2014. Benefiting the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, the event will include a happy hour for players and sponsors as well as a pro exhibition on Saturday. Contact Lisa Cochrane (239-246-8875) or Warren Schwab (239-395-8774) for more information. The Dunes is located at 949 Sand Castle Road on Sanibel Island.

Tennis for a Better Life
I had received information about a Tennis for a Better Life benefit event being held at Park Meadow Tennis Center, also on April 4 -6, but the event has been postponed. Despite the postponement, it is a tremendous cause that I intend to get fully behind. 

I hadn't heard about Tennis for a Better Life prior to a couple of weeks ago, but I did manage to browse their website in preparation for this post. I hear they have a junior tournament fundraiser on the horizon and I'll be sure to get the word out on that. They are on Facebook as well if you want to friend the cause. 

USPTA Nationals at The Landings
Milos Vasovic- USPTA Grand
Prix Men's 35 Champ with
Alex Hermeto and Pro-Am
This is a bit early, but I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this one, so put it on the calendar. About six weeks after they host Madisen’s Match, The Landings will host the 2014 USPTA National Clay Court Surface Championships on May 8-11, 2014. 

Paulo Barros- Top Open player on
USPTA Florida Grand Prix Circuit
The local pros who usually travel to play events (Armor Persons of Breckenridge, Steve Shortridge of Colonial, Bob Green of Pelican Preserve and others) are sure to be in this one. The usual big hitters from Naples (Franco Mata, Tye Myers, etc.) are likely to be in the field as well.  

Paul D'Amico- Director if Tennis
Don't be surprised to see some additional pros who don't usually play the USPTA Grand Prix circuit in this one as national titles will be on the line. As a former winner, I can tell you that it feels good to be a National Champion...even if it was an "old guys" division :). Keep your eye on this one as it ought to be fun, and you know Paul and his crew at the Landings always put on a nice event. 

That's about it for me on this end. Game, set, match...T. A.

Friday, March 14, 2014


In case you haven’t been paying much attention, I’m just here to let you know that good things are happening in FGCU Tennis! The Lady Eagles are on a three-match win streak after downing Evansville today (Tuesday the 11th) and the men have taken two in a row. Remember when a double eagle was pretty valuable? Oh, you aren’t old enough? Well, this past Sunday at Three Oaks Tennis Center, both the men’s and women’s teams took down Troy University to notch the double eagle victory.

Men’s Coach, C. J. Weber has given us his take in his newsletter below, so I’ll just offer a few tidbits on the women and the program overall. The win for the Lady Eagles against Troy was big, as Troy had barely lost to one top 75 team and had beaten another coming in.

The “Eaglettes” strong singles lineup proved key once again against Evansville, as they dropped the doubles point to open the match. Freshman Candela Munoz Giron playing at No.5 has probably logged the fewest minutes of any collegian who has nine wins to her credit this season (she’s 9-1). She has one of the best weapons a tennis player can have: a mind for the game, and she displays it every time out.

Senior Johanna Sterkel (2nd singles) has put together a nice run of three straight with her win today, as did Sophomore Elizabeth Means (4th singles), who also gutted out a tough one against Troy on Sunday. FGCU’s other “Fab Frosh”, Breana Stampfli also got back on the winning track at No.2 singles with the match-clinching win today.

Junior Sarah Means, the Eaglettes’ top singles player got back on the winning track against Troy, after a three match skid that halted her nine-match win streak, but her match against Evansville was suspended. Senior Bettina Botha, who also righted her ship in a tough three-setter against Troy, after a three-match slump, had her match against Evansville suspended as well.

The ladies take their show on the road with the men this weekend against two tough A-Sun Conference foes. They face a stiff test against East Tennessee State University (ETSU) who won the Conference Championship in 2011 and has been in the Conference Finals the past two seasons, on Friday. The Bucs are also coming off a big upset win against a top-65 team, so the Eaglettes will have to bring their A games.

They, then, should have a bit of a breather (if there’s such a thing on the road) on Saturday against University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU) on Saturday. With intense new Coach Courtney Vernon leading the ship this time around, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset in Tennessee. The lady Eagles have the talent, and they have the fight. If they add a pinch of belief and dollop of sound strategic play, they could serve up a tasty upset dish to the Bucs.

Before I pass the baton off to Coach Weber, who does a fantastic job of detailing the men’s tennis saga, I just want to offer some kudos to the fans who come out to support the tremendous college tennis in our backyard. In a recent newsletter, Coach Weber passed on some newsworthy info that warrants a pat on the back for the Eagles faithful:

“Also, we have some extremely exciting news; as YOU (our fans) are putting FGCU on the NATIONAL stage! The attendance race has been released by the ITA for tennis for the month of February, and we have discovered that we had the 7th highest attendance in terms of total numbers! And even more impressively, we rank 5th in the country in average attendance! Here are the numbers…

February Leaders – Total Attendance

1. Tennessee 2304

2. Michigan 1730

3. Ohio State 1618

4. Texas Christian 1449

5. Florida State 1262

6. Duke 1142

7. FGCU 1086

8. Baylor 1075

9. Virginia 1051

10. Texas A&M 1039

February Leaders – Average Attendance

1. Texas Christian 362

2. Tennessee 288

3. Virginia 263

4. Mississippi 254

5. FGCU 248

6. Michigan 247

7. Georgia 228

8. Texas Tech 213

9. Washington 205

10. Texas A&M CC 190

We can’t thank all of you enough for your incredible support! We truly have one of the best tennis environments in the entire country…and we are still looking to grow and grow and grow! So please invite your friends, family, and other tennis lovers, to support the only division I tennis program in the area! Looking forward to seeing everybody out there soon!”

Are you kidding me! With the Gators, the Seminoles, Knights and others in our neck of the woods, FGCU leads the State in average attendance for the month! That is Eagle-astic! Eag-cellent! Way to go fans!!! Wouldn’t it be something if FGCU Tennis could lead the State for the entire season? I think it’s doable, but only with your help.

The women are back in action at home against Minnesota next Monday the 17th at 5pm and the men are battle at home next on Tuesday the 18th against Minnesota as well. Both contests should be spirited, but the women seem to face the tougher challenge against the Lady Gophers, who are coming to town with a 3-0 road record and are 10-3 overall. I’m betting they could use some raucous fans next Monday.

Ok, here’s the latest from Coach Weber:

Dear fans and supporters of FGCU Men’s Tennis:

Thank you to all who made it out to our match at Three Oaks Park this Sunday against Troy. One fan thought we still had over 60 people out there, which most schools don’t even get this on their own home courts! So thanks once again for your support, even in unfamiliar settings, especially since Troy put up a hefty fight against us, and we certainly needed the crowd support to get over our slow start in singles!

Beating Troy 5-2 makes that the 2nd straight match that we won at 5-2 (being that we beat Wright State the previous week 5-2). The doubles continues to be a strong point for us, as we’ve won 7 of our 11 doubles points so far this year! And the recent duo of Lucas Vaz and redshirt freshman Chris Perrigan remain UNDEFEATED at 3-0 with one unfinished match against UNF. Congratulations to Chris Perrigan especially for not dropping a point yet for the Eagles! J He has really stepped up in a much needed position.

Singles, we started off very lethargic, as I mentioned previously; but Dean Tsamas cruised to a 6-0, 3-0 (ret.) win to motivate the guys to turn things around. And then it lead to comeback wins from #1 Jordi Vives, #2 Tianyu Bao, and the match clinching #6 Gabe Echeverry! It was an exciting match, and I’m happy the guys showed some resilience to make the comeback.

Jordi fell to #70 in the latest edition of the ITA rankings after posting 3 additional wins; but we’re not discouraged by that at all. The rankings will continue to move throughout the rest of the season, and we’re confident that Jordi’s ranking is strong because all three of his losses on the year are from ranked opponents. He will get another opportunity at a ranked win this weekend against ETSU, as both of their top two players are ranked in the top 125 (#105 and #124). He’s certainly looking forward to the challenge.

Next weekend, we travel to #55 ETSU and USC Upstate for one of our most difficult road trips of the season. ETSU has won our conference the last 7 years, and it’s time for us to put an end to that. This is ETSU’s last year in the league, so it would be oh so sweet to send them out with a loss at their home courts! We shall see what happens, as we know it will be a formidable task. USC Upstate will prove to be no pushover either, as we will be looking to try to avenge a 6-1 defeat from two years ago at their place. We beat them 5-2 at FGCU last year, but we have certainly not forgotten that defeat on their courts from 2 years ago!

Wish us luck, and check out more men’s tennis information at…



C. J. Weber

Head Men’s Tennis Coach|Florida Gulf Coast University


Don't forget to check out Madisen's match and see you around the courts. Game, set, match...T. A.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Courtesy of Madisen's Match Founder Duane Chaney:

Grand Slam Champion Jensen Brothers to headline star-studded tennis charity event
(Fort Myers, Fla.—Mar. 11, 2014) --- Friday and Saturday, Mar. 28 and 29 brings internationally known tennis personalities and former French Open Champions Luke and Murphy Jensen along with tennis legends Don Johnson, Jared Palmer, Tom Gullikson, and Mikael Pernfors to Fort Myers for the 6th Annual Madisen’s Match Charity Tennis Clinic, Pro-Am, and Exhibition. The Jensen Brothers will display their big personalities and world class tennis skills at the Madisen’s Match Exhibition as they take on 2002 Wimbledon Champions and former World #1 ranked ATP doubles team Jared Palmer and Don Johnson. Guests at the event can see them up close and personal at The Landings Yacht, Golf, and Tennis Club in Fort Myers on Saturday, Mar. 29 as part of Madisen’s Match, an annual Clinic, Pro-Am, Exhibition tennis charity event benefitting Lee Memorial Health System’s Regional Cancer Center and Barbara’s Friends---Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund.

In addition to the Grand Slam Champions Doubles Match, spectators will be able to see doubles matches featuringformer US Davis Cup Team Captain Tom Gullikson and French Open finalist Mikael Pernfors. Matches featuring top world ranked current ATP players, and SW Florida Pro League All Stars are also scheduled. Complimentary food and beverages from Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Fired Pizza, and World of Beer are included with Exhibition ticket purchase. Exhibition Match seating begins at 4 p.m. with matches starting at 4:15 p.m. 

Madisen’s Match will also offer up to 50 participants the rare opportunity to get instruction and play alongside some of the greatest players to play the game in an intimate setting at luxurious Landings Yacht, Golf, and Tennis Club. The Madisen’s Match clinic begins at 8:30 a.m.; followed by a catered lunch, with the Pro-Am beginning at 1:30 p.m. Players are paired by skill level and will receive individual instruction form the celebrity world class tennis pro’s. Clinic and Pro-Am packages include admission to Exhibition Matches.

Madisen’s Match tennis activities are preceded by the Live Jazz Dinner and Auction on Friday, Mar. 28 at 6 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by solo artist Mark Sanders, and The Danny Sinoff Quartet. Live and silent auctions will feature autographed sports memorabilia, exclusive travel opportunities, Bruce Springsteen concert packages and many other exciting items.

Ticket packages start at $50 for exhibition matches; Live Jazz Dinner & Auction tickets start at $75; Clinic and Pro-Am packages start at $250. To purchase tickets or to register to attend, please visit www.madisensmatch.com or call the Landings Activities Office at 239-482-3211. The event is expected to sell out quickly so advance registration is preferred.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available, please visit the website or contact event founder Duane Chaney at 239-292-0322 for more information.

About Lee Memorial Health System Foundation
Lee Memorial Health System Foundation raises philanthropic dollars on behalf of Lee Memorial Health System including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital. The Foundation provides financial support for many service areas including Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Regional Cancer Center, The Rehabilitation Hospital, Lee Cardiac Care, Older Adult Services, Nursing Research and Pediatric Oncology. Over the past two years, the Foundation has distributed more than 12.4 million to Lee Memorial Health System to support its lifesaving mission. Please visit https://www.leememorial.org/foundation/ or call 239-343-6950 for more information about the role of philanthropy at Lee Memorial Health System.

About Madisen’s Match
Madisen’s Match was founded by Duane Chaney in 2008 after learning of his 3 year old niece’s inoperable brain tumor diagnosis. To date, Madisen’s Match has raised over $185,000 for local and national brain tumor charities. 

Lee Memorial Health System - Press contact information:
Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC, System Director- mary.briggs@leememorial.org (O) 239-454-8765 (C) 239-789-5786
Pat Dolce, Public Affairs Specialist-  pat.dolce@leememorial.org (O) 239-454-8766 (C) 239-989-2758
Kat Welch, Media Relations-  Specialist kathleen.welch@leememorial.org (O) 239-454-8721 (C) 239-443-7250

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Bao & LancePhoto courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The FGCU Men’s Tennis Eagles are battling though some heavy turbulence on their way to, what they hope will be, some smoother sailing once they enter the A-Sun Conference airspace. Their initial foray into Conference play against University of North Florida (UNF) at home last week was a bit disappointing, as they dropped that contest 2-5. 

Gabe Echeverry vs WSU
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
That losing battle was a good barometer of where they stand against the top competition in the Conference as UNF was the Conference Champion in 2012 and the Conference Finalist last season. One of the two losses against UNF came in a third set (junior Tianyu Bao lost 2-6, 6-3, 3-6) and the other a deciding-set-tiebreak (senior Gabe Echeverry fell 6-3, 2-6, 0-1 (9-11) with two match points on his racquet), so either could have been notched for the Eagles.

Jordi Vives
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles got back on the winning track yesterday (Wednesday the 5th) against Wright State (WSU), posting a 5-2 victory. Junior Jordi Vives (No.54), the second highest ranked collegian in Florida behind University of Florida’s Stephane Piro (No.48), posted his fourth consecutive victory at the No.1 slot, since his one loss of the season against then No.24 Auburn, and senior Lance Lvovksy did the same in the No.5 slot.

Lucas Vaz
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
Also posting nice wins for the Eagles yesterday were Echeverry (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Lucas Vaz, whose immense talent is still simmering just beneath the surface. Hopefully Lucas’ gritty three-set victory against WSU (6-4, 3-6, 7-5) will launch him into big air territory for the rest of the season.

Against WSU, the Eagles continued to show their growing doubles acumen by claiming the doubles point for the sixth time this season. 
Dean Tsamas & Jordi get the W
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Jordi teamed with Dean Tsamas to take No.1 dubs, and Lucas and redshirt freshman Chris Perrigan taking No.3. Second doubles, with Bao and Lvovksky lining up for the Eagles, was not completed since the doubles point had already been earned.

Lance Lvovsky
Photo courtesy of
Linwood Ferguson
The Eagles will take on Troy at home (being played at Three Oaks Tennis Center) this Sunday, March 9th, at 2pm, before traveling to Johnson City, Tennessee to take on the A-Sun’s defending champs, East Tennessee State (ETSU), and then to Spartanburg, South Carolina  to face University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU). Troy’s Trojans aren’t likely to do much damage to the Eagles, but every single game, set, and match that the Eagles claim against ETSU will be hard-earned.

Tianyu Bao
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
ETSU has played 10 ranked teams in the 12 matches they have played this season, and although they have only beaten three of those teams, they have been severely battle tested and are strong at every position. 
Dean Tsamas
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Last season the Eagles failed to claim a point against the champs, but Jordi was oh so close, losing a thriller, 8-10 in the deciding set tiebreak. Jordi will be looking for revenge against USCU as one of his few singles losses as an Eagle was suffered against them at home last season.

The Eagles will be back at home on March 18th against Minnesota to begin an extended home stand of four consecutive matches (click here for full schedule).

The Lady Eagles are on tap for this Sunday at 2pm against Troy as well (also being played at Three Oaks Tennis Center). The “Eaglettes” are coming off a road win against FAU on Feb. 22, and carry a 4-4 record into the contest with Troy. 

Bettina Botha
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
That .500 record could easily have been 6-2 with a different bounce here or a different bounce there, as two of those losses were 3-4. The Lady Trojans have a 5-5 record and have beaten one of the four ranked teams they have played. Looks like our lady Eagles will have their work cut out for them this Sunday.

Sarah Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Leading the way for the Lady Eagles this season has been Senior Sarah Means who had been on a tear at the No.1 spot this year, winning nine straight singles matches before a recent three-match losing stretch. Two of those losses were tough ones against nationally ranked teams, and she will be looking to get back on the winning track this Sunday.

Liz Means
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Little sis Elizabeth Means, playing the four and five spots primarily, has also been a major contributor. She has posted nine singles wins in 12 tries, with two of her losses coming against the same ranked teams to which big sister fell. She did get back on the winning track against FAU, in the team's most recent match, but will have to work hard to keep her momentum going against Troy.

Fab Frosh Candy & Breana
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Two talented freshmen have been clutch for the Eaglettes in 2014. Candela Munoz Giron has won eight of her last nine matches playing primarily at No.5, and Breana Stampfli has won seven of 11 matches playing at No.2. Both will need to continue their strong play on Sunday to overcome the challenge posed by the Lady Trojans.

Johanna Sterkel
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
Senior Johanna Sterkel, playing primarily at the No.3 position, has been a key competitor this season as well, winning seven of her 12 singles matches since January. The Lady Eagles will need her leadership if they are to upend the Trojans.

Gyanna Mandic
Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson
The Eaglettes will take to the home courts again this coming Tuesday the 11th at 2pm against the University of Evansville, before joining the men on the trip to Johnson City and Spartanburg. They will be back home on the 17th against Minnesota (click here for full schedule).

If you haven’t yet gotten out to see the Eagles in action, this Sunday would be a good time to get on the burgeoning bandwagon. Oh, and if you haven't seen Linwood's photo site, you have got to check it out here! Steph has a flight to catch, so I probably won’t be able to catch all the fun, but we’ll be there for he doubles action at least. Hope to see you there! Game, set, match...T. A.