Monday, March 23, 2015


Note: I'm Hoping to get some photos from the champs, so check back in a couple days if interested.
Larry Blohm, Nile Evans, Steve Romaine, Captain Ed
Marcelo, Masa Kumamoto, Tim McClary, Richard Fell,
& Bob Bachula
Winning a national championship is no easy feat. I’ve only contended for one once, and I was not successful. There are so many USTA leagues, divisions and teams across the country, that if you can get past your local league, win at the sectional level, and then conquer the contenders from the 15 USTA sections around the 50 states, you’ve really accomplished something.

Well, that is precisely what Captain Ed Marcelo and his USTA Florida 65 and Over 7.0 Sectional Champion teammates have done! The team, which represented the Hideaway Country Club, Lee and Charlotte Counties when they won the Sectional Championships in Daytona last April, gave Southwest Florida something to be proud at the national event this past weekend (March 20 - 22) in Surprise, Arizona.

The team started strong in flight play on Friday, sweeping the Mid-Atlantic Section 3-0 without dropping a set. Captain Ed Marcelo teamed with one of my most improved students, Masa Kumamoto, on Court 1; Nile Evans and Larry Blohm cruised on Court 2; and Steve Romaine and Richard Fell cleaned up on Court 3.

In the second match of flight play on Friday against Missouri Valley, Masa teamed with Steve on Court 1 to down their opponents in straight sets. Nile and Larry took care of business on Court 2 in straight sets as well, but the team suffered its only match loss of the competition, as Tim McClary (another outstanding student of mine) and Bob Bachula lost to 5-7 sets. In all fairness, Tim wasn't in the best of health when he took the court.

Although our guys swept Intermountain in the first match on Saturday, they had a spot of difficulty on Court 3, as Eddie and Masa had to go to the match tiebreak after delivering a fresh bagel to their opponents in the first set. Masa and Eddie got the job done though, and so did their teammates. Nile and Larry took their court-1 match in straights, and Steve and Richard did the same on Court 2.

That last match must have been enough of a scare for the soon-to-be National Champs, because they didn’t lose more than three games in any of the six sets they won in the final match of flight-play. Nile and Larry combined for a commanding win on Court 1, Tim and Steve handled their responsibility on Court 2 (serving up a hot bagel in the first set), and Masa and Bob dropped just four games in their win on Court 3.

Today (Sunday March 22), the team went 6-0, sweeping all the three matches in, both, the Semi-Final and Championship matches. In the semis, they topped the men from Southern Section without dropping a set. Nile and Larry teamed on Court 1 again, Masa and Eddie manned Court 2, and Tim and Steve anchored the squad on Court 3. Again, no court lost more than three games.

Against the Southwest Section in the final, Captain Ed shuffled his lineup yet again, putting Tim and Richard on Court 1, Nile and Larry in Court 2, Masa and Steve on Court 3. It was a strategic lineup that proved to be a National Championship lineup. Courts 2 and three finished their matches early to secure the win, while Tim and Richard’s match was conceded by the opposition.

I’m not sure when Lee County produced its last National Champion (if ever- Susie Bessire couldn't think if one and she's been around a while), but we’re awfully proud of Ed Marcelo, Steve Romaine, Bob Bachula, Richard Fell, Masa Kumamoto, Tim McClary, Nile Evans, Larry Blohm, and Tom Martin (who didn’t play at Sectionals or in AZ), for capturing the USTA League 65 and Over- Men’s 7.0 National Championship. Way to go guys, wish we could stage you a parade. 

Speaking of Susie Bessire, the smiling face that is synonymous with USTA league tennis in our area, she is undergoing her second round of chemo this week, and if you can, let her know you are pulling for her. Anyone who knows Susie knows that we couldn't have a better Local League Coordinator. We got your back Susie! Make sure those MDs got your front :). Game, set, match, National Championship! T. A.