John Newcombe Fantasy Camp Sunday, Day 1

Onboard AirBerry with John, Rich T and Willy
Onboard AirBerry with John, Rich T and Willy
It is that time: the start of “the best week of my tennis year!” The travel to my 13th 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 94 campers… with 68 returning vets and 26 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 and connected to Willy Hoffmann’s).

The List of Legends

At 4 p.m., they had the opening afternoon of the pro introductions. The Legends (with their 150+ Majors titles!!!!) and their team assignments were:

• John Newcombe, Legend of Legends Rod Laver, Charlie Pasarell, and American doubles specialist Rick Leach leading The Mongrel Kangaroos (who won in 2011 and 2012)
• Roy Emerson, Marty Reissen, Luke Jensen and newly-acquired Dick Stockton 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, Mark Woodforde and Brian Gottfried coordinating The Dunnies

While the 26 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.

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 Marc Segan for the “welcome to the rookies.”

The High Commissioner of the Annual Boat Race, Dr. Al Eden (in his 29th consecutive camp at age 90!) was stuck in an airport; so was not there to discuss 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 went to Fred Stolle’s Dunnies and Rich Tarantino joined Willy on Newk’s Kangaroos.

Monday Schedule and My Change

After dinner, I avoided the bar and the Dodgers shutting out the Cubbies; and went to my room to get ready for a morning clinic, our team practice, singles rankings, and doubles pairings on Monday morning.

In a move to hopefully come home in one piece and uninjured, I told Roy Emerson that for the first time I would be a “doubles only” player and not play hardcourt singles (against much younger opponents).

More to come.

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

  1. George, thanks again for reporting the “important news’ from the camp. Just last week I partially tore my meniscus and it seems that I am not supposed to be there. I am glad the menu has not changed since I was there for 14 years in the beginning. I am only there with my heart and greetings to all campers! I hope the Wankers will win one for Emmo this year.

    All the best to all, Rolf Jaeger

    Rolf, get better and get back on the court. thanks, george

  2. Missing all you guys and watching enthusiastically from afar! Hopefully next year I will be stronger and ready to get back to the best week of tennis all year. Have fun, stay uninjured and play hard!

    Geoff, get healthy and get back here! george

  3. I look forward to your daily reports, George. All the best to the Wankers! Hope the team got some of the young blood from the 26 rookies! Tsk.

    tom,we will do our job playing tennis and you do yours getting the right candidates elected! george

  4. George, thanks for these updates. Seems Dick Stockton has left the Dunnies (who won in 2013 when I was there) and Marty Riessen is still there. I presume that Terry Long is still on Emmo’s team. Also, I am heartened that you decided against singles on hard courts.

    JB, yes, good to have some new blood in Wanker coaching; and Terry is still a Wanker. While it was a bit of an ego-dampening decision, “dubs only” is the right choice. see you next time. george

  5. George – stay healthy smart move dubs only. Say hello to all my friends
    from Columbus, Mackessy, Miller, West, Capito, Nourse, Jones and any others.

    Phil, Scott Miller not here due to injury; but will others. tks, george

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