Wimbledon Champion JoAnne Russell led the Naples team at Saturday’s 32nd Annual Naples – Ft. Myers Tennis Challenge, where I had “the personal challenge” of playing Fred Drilling in the 65 singles category.
According to the event coordinator, “Fort Myers, the perennial underdog in the annual Tennis Classic (it’s won only 3 of 32 annual events) looks like its ‘going young’ in its attempt to pull an upset on Saturday. Among its team roster of 36 great tennis players, Ft. Myers will have nine players drawn from the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s and women’s tennis teams.”
I Played Very Well
All of the 50 and over age groups played in the first round, starting at 2 p.m. (I guess so that us seniors could go home and take a nap!). So I squared off against the former World #1 under partly cloudy skies, with the strategy of playing “controlled aggressive tennis” … keeping the ball in play, but hitting out on my serve and going for my shots as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
By my rough count, I made only five or six unforced errors and double faulted only twice. Want to guess the score? 6-1, 6-0 to Fred. As friend Bob Wilkie said, “You played really well. The answer is Fred is just that good.”
The Match of the Day
In the 60 singles, Ft. Myers Andy Bloom played Naples George Dalphon (Senior Games Gold Medalist) in a marathon match. After my one hour and ten minute “match,” I watched as they were just starting their second set – Andy having come back from 2-5 to win the first 7-5.
Andy was wincing in pain after almost every stroke, with painful tennis elbow; but wouldn’t quit. I watched for a while, went to the clubhouse, took a leisurely shower, and came back as they were in a deciding ten point tiebreaker. That went to overtime, with Andy surviving George Dalphon’s ambidextrous game and the pain to win 7-5, 3-6, 11-9.
Age vs. Experience
Naples team captain and Pelican Marsh’s Pete Minarich reports, “The match score was tied 4-4, then Ft. Myers jumped out to an 11-6 lead. Needing only one more win, it looked bleak; but Naples won the next four matches (three in breakers) to get it to 10-11. A big crowd gathered to watch the FGCU boys take the final breaker from Pastrello-Manring (who had never lost in the event). And, Ft. Myers won the day 12-10.”
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