Naples/Ft. Myers Challenge

Wimbledon Champion JoAnne Russell led the Naples team at Saturday’s 32nd Annual Naples – Ft. Myers Tennis Challenge, where I

Wimbledon Champs
Wimbledon Champs
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.
2013 challenge
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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3 thoughts on “Naples/Ft. Myers Challenge

  1. Sounds like a fun weekend Ft Myers coming through as the underdog
    Big leads, then lose a few tiebreakers, we at Fantasies know what that is all about.
    Best regards,

  2. Somehow I do not think Ted Norris had this kind of format in mind when he organized the first event. The community is not composed of college players living in the area for a short time——its those in the community who have lived there and have some roots.
    Also there should be more older senior events, since this area has wonderful senior players. What does everyone think ??? Maybe we should have a residency rule based on time here or just eliminate current college players from the competition. Just my opinion…..

    Paul… I believe they will look at adding some higher age groups next year. I think there is an opportunity for 70s, 75s, and even 80s. Thanks, george

  3. The smart move would’ve been to default when the pain started but I couldn’t quit in front of the home crowd. That was fortunate as we needed the points. Killing me today and looks like I will be on IR for a while. Hopefully I will be ready for the January tournaments.

    Andy … Without your effort, it ends up 11-11. George

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