It is that time: the start of “the best week of my tennis year!” The travel to my 15th 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, Tom Mackessy 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.
Welcome and Goody Bag
As usual, Steve Contardi 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 with several great shirts.
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, Charlie Pasarell, American doubles specialist Rick Leach and Australian star Mark Philippoussis leading The Mongrel Kangaroos
- Coaching The Wankers (my team since I have been coming) is Roy Emerson, Marty Reissen,: South African Danie Visser, who won 3 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles and reached the World No. 1 doubles ranking in1990; and “rookie” coach and fellow South African Wayne Ferreira.
- Owen Davidson, Ross Case, Rod Laver driving The Musclemen
- In the absence of Fred Stolle, Dick Stockton heads up The Dunnies along with Luke Jensen and rookie Legends Yohan Kreik and Mickael Pernfors
While the 21 (?) 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 one of his best ever “welcome to the rookies.”
The High Commissioner of the Annual Boat Race, Dr. Al Eden (in his 31st consecutive camp at age 92!) discussed the rules for the always-controversial drinking contest to be held later in the week.
Finally, the team assignments came. For the 15th time, I am an Emerson Wanker; Willy on Newk’s again, along with Rich Tarantino (and his son Ken) and John Berry went to the Dunnies.
After dinner, I went to my room to get ready for a morning clinic, our team practice, singles rankings, and doubles pairings on Monday morning. Buuuuut, the forecast is for rain starting in the afternoon … and continuing for THREE days!
In a move to hopefully again come home in one piece and uninjured, I told Roy Emerson that for the third time I would be a “doubles only” player and not play hardcourt singles (against much younger opponents).
More to come.
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