This weekend was the annual Naples/Ft. Myers Tennis Challenge at the fantastic Bonita Bay Club, with two teams made up of many male and female world-class players like JoAnne Russell, Narendra Singh and Pavel Slozil (and me) competing in age groups from the college kids to the 65s (me).
“From the frying pan into the fire”
I would have had to play Fred Drilling like I did last year; but he is still recovering from shoulder surgery; so the Ft. Myers team plugged in Mike Barnes … a former Division I college All American and tour player (with wins over Dick Stockton and Darren Cahill!). Another great tennis experience!
With no expectations of winning, my goal was the same as vs. Jimmy Parker at the Nationals: play my game, be aggressive, and have fun. Like most of the top players, Mike plays COMPLETELY UNDER CONTROL and hardly ever misses a shot.
After a slightly sloppy start, I settled down and was able to make the rallies competitive. The points and the few games I was able to win came on some of my unreturnable serves, drop shots, and forehand drives; but he coasted to a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
My Naples teammates and friends Spike Gonzales and Joe McAleer in the 65 doubles went down to local pro Larry Albritton and Narendra Singh (former Davis Cup coach for India, touring pro, and Wimbledon doubles competitor).
And in a rematch of last year’s 60s singles marathon, Bonita Bay’s own Andy Bloom again outlasted Naples’ George Dalphon in another grueling two-hour singles match.
In the 60s doubles, National Silver Ball winner Steve Shreiner teamed with local pro and former Davis Cup Coach of Bahrain Larry Gagnon for Ft. Myers to beat local Naples pros Doug Welsh and Mike Mitzell.
And Mike Dahm, returning from the World’s in Turkey, “played down” in the 50s to win 10-8 in the tie breaker for Naples.
When I left for my hot tub, Ft. Myers was leading six matches to five.
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