John Newcombe Fantasy Camp Sunday, Day 1

Rich, John, me, Willy
Rich, John, me, Willy
It is that time: the start of “the best week of my tennis year!” The travel to my 12th year at the Fantasy Tennis Camp was once again in the luxury of “AirBerry” (Pelican Bay friend John Berry); so John, Willy Hoffmann, Rich Tarantino and I took off from Naples Airport at 1 p.m. for the 2.5 hour flight to a small airfield in New Braunfels, Texas.

Before leaving home, I did my last piece of preparation for a week of two-a-days on hardcourts: clipped and filed down my toe nails to minimize the impact of getting my usual “tennis toe.”

Welcome and Goody Bag

As usual, Steve Contardi, his family, and all the Newcombe ranch staff running the show couldn’t be any nicer. There was a ‘gift bag’ of stuff waiting for each camper: three Legend tee shirts, two Legend DriFit tennis shirts, and a long sleeve warm-up shirt. Attendance this year was a solid 90 campers… with 63 returning vets and 27 rookies.

My accommodations are the same as the last few years: a full-sized condo unit overlooking court 4 (where Roy Emerson will give his afternoon clinics).

The List of Legends (with 130 majors wins among them)

At 4 p.m., they had the opening afternoon of the pro introductions. The Legends and their team assignments were:

• John Newcombe, Charlie Pasarell, and American doubles specialist Rick Leach leading The Mongrel Kangaroos (who won in 2011 and 2012)
• Roy Emerson, Marty Reissen, and first-timer Luke Jensen coaching The Wankers (my team since I have been coming)
• Owen Davidson, Ross Case, and Murphy Jensen driving The Musclemen (last year’s team champs)
• Fred Stolle, Dick Stockton Mark Woodforde and Brian Gottfried coordinating The Dunnies

While the 27 newbies had ‘rookie tryouts’ for the four teams, the rest of us played doubles — and we all reminded ourselves to “pace yourself” for the long week of tennis. I ended up playing for an hour+ with Willy … with us both trying to get used to the speed of the hard courts.

After a beer at the official “Happy Hour,” we had what Willy describes as our “opening night shock and awe dinner” of surf and turf (lobster tails and beef tenderloin!). Following that, Steve Contardi greeted everyone and then passed the microphone to Ned Dorman (filling in for the much-missed Marc Segan) for the “welcome to the rookies.”

The High Commissioner of the Annual Boat Race, Dr. Al Eden (in his 28th consecutive camp at age 90!) followed with one good joke (he told three); and then discussed the rules for the always-controversial drinking contest to be held later in the week.

Finally, the team assignments came. The teams somewhat different this year, with movement of players and the assignment of the Rookies. Willy on Newk’s again, but John Berry and Rich joining me on the Emmo-led Wankers; and 20-year member of Newk’s team, Joel Drucker being “traded up” to Fred Stolle’s Dunnies.

New Monday Schedule

After dinner, I avoided the bar and went to my room to watch the Patriots beat the Colts and to get ready for a morning clinic, our team practice, singles rankings, and doubles pairings on Monday morning.

Then, due to the threat of rain later this week, we will actually have the first team doubles matches Monday afternoon (for the first time ever). And I told Roy Emerson that for the first time I would be a “doubles only” player, unless they can get my singles matches on the soft clay courts.

More to come.

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9 thoughts on “John Newcombe Fantasy Camp Sunday, Day 1

  1. Truly sounds like a GREAT time and I look forward to continued reports.I’m going to have to look into this for next year for myself.

    Ron, it is a great experience. george

  2. Thanks for the updates George–Sure wish I was there–smart move to do doubles only-although I bet they will get you on the clay for singles–they need your grit and tenacity as an example to the new guys-
    Tell my Dad to work harder on the jokes!!! Maybe make sure he drinks at the bar more often?! Have a great week!!!!!!!!!!

    Doc, it may be hard for your dad to remember all the good jokes! thanks for the kind words. wish you were here. george

  3. Hi George, thanks once more to help my good memories of 12 years attending the fun week. Two spinal operations (one just 2 weeks ago) and hardly any tennis year kept me from signing up again. I wish that all Campers have the time of their life and of course I want Emmo’s Wankers to win. I look forward to the reports in the coming days, All the very best for all! Rolf

  4. Looking forward to your postings. Could not be there this year, but will enjoy vicariously

    Ron, miss you … but we have another long, white haired camper, who i thought was you! george

  5. Looks like fun! I’m always so jealous when y’all go to Texas! You need to suggest a girls camp- but skip the drinking contest. (Maybe put it across the lake from the boys camp, and we can sneak over in canoes and short sheet your beds!). anyway, have lots of fun and great tennis, and keep those postings going…

    Margot – there are some wild ladies here the weekend before we get here! Short sheeting sounds like fun. george

  6. George – thin attendance from Chas this year. Wish we were there! Have a great time and give my best to the boyz. – “Steve”

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