It is that time: the start of “the best week of my tennis year!” The travel to my 16th 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:
- The Mongrel Kangaroos –
- John Newcombe,
- Charlie Pasarell,
- American doubles specialist Rick Leach
Wankers (my team since I have been coming) –
- Roy Emerson,
- Brian Gottfried
- South African Danie Visser, who reached the World No. 1 doubles ranking in 1990;
- The Musclemen –
- Owen Davidson,
- Ross Case,
- Johann Kriek
- Murphy Jensen
- The Dunnies –
- Dick Stockton
- Mark Woodforde
- Luke Jensen
- Mickael Pernfors
While the 19 newbies had ‘rookie tryouts’ for the four teams, the rest of us (91 total campers) 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 his funny “welcome to the rookies.”
The High Commissioner of the Annual Boat Race, Dr. Al Eden (in his 32nd consecutive camp at age 93!) told a few “tasteful stories” and then discussed the rules for the always-controversial drinking contest to be held later in the week.
Finally, the team assignments came. For the 16th time, I am an Emerson Wanker; Willy on Newk’s again, along with Rich Tarantino (and his son Ken), John Berry went to the Musclemen and Tom Mackessy 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 morning.
In a move to hopefully again come home in one piece and uninjured, I told Roy Emerson that for the fourth time I would be a “doubles only” player and not play hardcourt singles (against much younger opponents).
More to come.
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