Note: You can skip all of my commentary and check the individual matches and scores by clicking on Results under the “Events” tab on the SWFL Pro League website homepage. If necessary, you can find an explanation of the scoring by clicking on “League Info” under the “About Us” tab on the SWFL Pro League website homepage. Photos are provided by Katrina Ramsey, and there are tons more at the SWFL Pro League Facebook page. Go like a few will ya.
Week 2 of the SWFL Pro League sponsored by by Summit Broadband and Ritzman Tennis Courts, hosted by Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club, featured Blagojevic Group & Harborside Dental (BG/HD), the leaders after Week 1, against second-place ProGraphx (PG). Third-place Raymond James and Welch Tennis (RJ/WT) and League-trailing Dina Marie Realty & Cedar Brook Financial (DMR/CBF) both had to put some points on the board to stay within reach of the top two teams.
In both instances, the team trailing the other posted enough points to overtake the competition. PG, which trailed BG/HD by three points coming in, put 8.5 points on the board to BG/HD’s 4, winning four of the six matches played and both the 4pm and 5:30pm sessions. That pushed PG into the Pro League lead by a half point (15.5 to 15). DMR/CBF had trailed RJ/WT by 1.5 points after Week 1, but bested RJ/WT by three points in their matchup to move into third place, ahead of, now, last-place RJ/WT by 1.5 points.
Again, the players of the SWFL Pro League delivered more than their fair share of drama on a Friday evening as seven of the 12 matches played ended in tiebreaks, six of those in match-tiebreaks. Unlike Week 1 when the competition was extremely close for “Match of The Day” honors, the Mixed Court 1 battle in the PG versus BG/HD matchup was the easy winner of Week 2 “Match of The Day” kudos. In what could be considered an upset by some, Christie Pollin and Rob Vinal edged Dominique Levin and Jeff Timmer in a thriller.
As usual, Gulf Harbour proved to be one of the top Pro League venues on the schedule. The official estimate of the spectacular spectator turnout was 700-plus; Shirla and the other members of GH’s Food and Beverage team were fantabulous; and Mike Curran’s staff, maintenance and otherwise (Fernando and Joanna come to mind) were spot on. So far, we are 2-0 in terms of venue performance, and with the lineup we have for this season’s events, I suspect the Pro League and its fans are going to go undefeated on that metric.
On a personal note, although there are always many reasons why Gulf Harbour is a favorite venue for Steph and me, the opportunity to see Liz Byck and her husband Peter Malen in public, smiling and chatting was truly the highlight of the afternoon. For those unfamiliar with the story, Liz had fallen back in July, and according to Peter, she was in what one doctor described as a coma for several weeks. Peter has kept us posted on the incredible progress Liz has made through her therapy (previously at Promise Hospital and now at Health Park Care & Rehab Center), and it was truly uplifting to see her out and about. So what if I have no tennis game? I have lots of reminders of what it truly important…On to the tennis.
BG/HD vs. PG
Who knew what to expect from former Pro League first-courter Scotty Harington? We knew that Mike Curran would be as solid as always, and that Sergio Rebolledo would bring a ton of game, but Sergio’s partner Nick Maurillo was also a mystery (at least to me) going in. On paper, it was a match that could have heralded a changing of the guard at the top of the SWFL Pro League.
Ah, but as we know, matches aren’t played on paper, but on the green stuff marked by white lines. As for all that potential changing of the guard stuff, Mike and Scotty’s play announced, “Not just yet!” It took the old, uh, I mean former teammates a little while to get again, and that staked Serge and Nick to a 6-4 first-set-lead. Mike and Scotty have been through so many wars that being down a set didn’t faze them one iota. They stormed back to claim the second set 6-3, and owned the match-tiebreak 10-4. Sorry Serge, I didn’t mean to wake the sleeping Dawg with all the old-age talk. Bet Scotty didn’t appreciate that “former” business either.
A match that promised to be a candidate for Match of The Day honors, was the Sam Desimone & Corey Knapp for BG/HD versus Joel Hampton and Paul Segodo of PG. At the very least, this was a match that you could bet on to feature some acrobatic and athletic play. Well, there definitely was acrobatic and athletic play, but most of it was on the side of PG’s Segodo and Hampton. The spirited contest I anticipated turned out to be a relatively easy 6-1, 6-4 win for Paul and Joel. Perhaps Sam and Corey had as tough a day as I had out there. If I know PG Captain Jim Katterfield, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Paul and Joel in the two-slot again next time out. They make a tough matchup for anyone.
Jeff Diggs, who represents PG, doesn’t say a whole lot, and is pretty unassuming (as far as pros go), but he’s like the late Al Davis of the Raiders: “Just win baby.” He teamed up with Tom Fisher, who is what you might call a “super sub.” Fish has subbed for years in the SWFL Pro League, and has had plenty of success doing so. I know, cause I’ve gone down to Fisher in tough matches on multiple occasions. Jeff and Fish were taking on a couple of ageless wonders in Mike Barnes and Larry “Great Hands” Gagnon for PG, who have done more than their share of winning as a team and individually. I’d rather you look up the result of this contest among perennial winners on the website scoreboard. I’ll just say that Digger and Fish posted a straight-set victory over a team isn’t used to being treated so harshly.
Mike Lawver and Pat Glaunert came into the engagement at Gulf Harbour confidently after their thrilling match-tiebreak win for BG/HD last session. They were facing Jim “Katman” Katterfield and Rick Calton who were coming off a tough loss in their Week 1 matchup. On paper the matchup suggested match-tiebreak, and these four combatants didn’t disappoint. It was close from the start as Pat and Mike appeared to be building on their penchant for winning close sets, taking the first 7-5. However, Katman and Rick stormed back with a 6-2 set, as Mike was struggling with cramp issues in the second. There was no miracle recovery in the match-tiebreak for Mike and Pat this time, as Rick and Katman eased their way to a 10-3 tiebreak victory, posting two points for PG.
Mixed Court 1
If you are a fan of mixed doubles, you had to have this match marked on your program…no, we didn’t really have programs, just a manner of speaking…Anyway, as I noted in the event preview, this matchup had marquee potential. World-class talent Dominique Levin and the intermittently brilliant Jeff Timmer took the court for PG against BG/HD Captain Christie Pollin, who also happens to be Jeff’s Head Pro at Colonial, and the always scrappy Rob Vinal. This match was pregnant with potential drama as both teams, after convincing Week 1 wins, seemed to be jockeying for position as the top mixed team in the League.
The first set score suggested that I was off my prognosticating rocker as Dominique and Jeff raced to a 6-1 advantage. Yet, as could be expected from Christie and Rob, there was no quit in this outfit. They came back to even the match with a hard fought 7-5 win in Set 2. But Dominique and Jeff had no intentions of going away either, and it was a war of attrition which finally ended with Christie and Rob completing the comeback: 11-9 in the match tiebreak. Wow! I imagine that Dominique and Jeff will be anxious to get back into the winning column next week, and I don’t know that I’d be anxious to play them at Lexington next week if I were playing mixed. They will have another thriller in the making for their next matchup as well.
Mixed Court 2
PG’s Kerry Kendrick and Dave Dekeersmaker had little trouble remaining undefeated, notching a straight-set victory over Carolyn Lawver and Dan Moenning. I think Dan came in a bit short of 100% physically, and even at 100%, Kerry and Dave would have been a tough out. They have yet to drop a set in their two matches, and showed no indications of letting up on the throttle. This duo could potentially post 24 of 24 available points for league-leading PG when all is said and done.
DMR/CBF vs. RJ/WT
For more than one reason, I was rooting for the “old guys” in this one as Paulo Barros and Jonas Kushner (sub) took the court for RJ/WT against Manny Encalada and Jean Luis Perez (sub). My guys (Paulo and Jonas) averaged that milestone age-40, while the opposition weighed in at an average of 26-years-old. Since I can practically reach out and touch 60, I’m usually rooting for the senior, or in this case senior-ish, duo.
It took a bit for Counselor Kushner to knock the rust off and get used to competing on the court rather than in the court again, and that led to Manny and Jean Luis jumping out to a 6-2 first
set advantage. Paulo and Jonas made the second set more competitive but couldn’t overcome the combination of youth and skill that the team in orange threw at em. Hey, a 6-7 second set ain’t half bad when you’re giving up more than a decade, right? Doesn’t’ seem to matter who we throw at Manny though, he just keeps showing up in the win column. Jean Luis is proving to be quite the sub, winning his debut match last week as well.
RJ/WT Captain Shawn Hedrick made his 2016-17 SWFL Pro League debut at GH, teamed with Robbie Greenlaw (sub), against Frank Fourgeau and Luke Andreae. Shawn and Robbie came in hot, taking a close, 6-4 first set. Shawn knows Frank and Luke pretty well, so I’m sure he knew his work was far from finished as darkness enveloped Court 1, my favorite tennis court of all time. Frank and Luke put on a nifty display of tennis in the second set and took it 6-2. Leave it to captain Shawn to break the rules: They played a third set instead of the “mandatory” (wink, wink) match-tiebreak, and Shawn and Robbie prevailed, 6-4.
For RJ/WT to finish at least one floor above the cellar of the SWFL Pro League, it will need to ride the backs of Todd Wise and Jimmy Martineau, who are likely to be among the top point earners for the team this season. Against DMR/CBF, Todd and Jimmy faced Oliver Stenger and John Jerome and posted a convincing straight set victory to put two points on the board for RJ/WT. Oliver and John have yet to find their mojo, dropping their first two contests in straights.
After dropping their first matches in Week 1, Matt Maloney and Paul D’Amico rose to the occasion and took down Charles Nelson, Jr. and yours truly is another dramatic finish. I suspect that Matt might have been the only player on the court who was semi-satisfied with the way he played, as his serve and heavy topspin forehand were the dominant stroked at
play this day. Matt and Paul made fewer errors in the first set to take it 6-3, the reverse was the case in the second, and we bounced back for a 6-2 second. After falling well behind in the match-tiebreak, Charles and I clawed back into it, but I made a few critical unforced errors at crunchtime that put the kibosh on our ill-fated comeback. Matt and Paul took the tiebreak 10-7.
The score can’t really tell you the real story, but perhaps a comment from one of the spectators might. In commenting on my performance on Friday, Butch Shorack remarked, “I could see some real potential there.” It was one of those, “you had to be there” things, and it cracked me up. Potential indeed, as I sneak up on the big six-oh! Another generous spectator patted my shoulder and gave me a sleeve of golf balls. Think he was trying to tell me something? Thanks Bill! And last but hardly least, Dr. Peter Karofsky, one of my favorite Gulf Harbour members, gave me a copy of his new novel, And the Oaks Heard Them All, probably as a consolation prize. I can’t consider myself a loser after all regardless of the score.
Mixed Court 1
Kimberly Jones of DMR/CBF made her first appearance of the season with Christian Karlovits at her side against Renee Deane and Alex Hermeto. Kim and Christian served notice that they intend to be firmly in the conversation at the top mixed doubles slot, sweeping both sets for two big points. The combination of Kim’s experience and Christian’s youth presents a
stiff test for opponents, and I’m sure their next opponents will do some cramming before the next meeting. The next SWFL Pro League event will be at Lexington, where Kim and Christian run the tennis show, and they will be matched up against Dominique Levin and Jeff Timmer. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Mixed Court 1 match is a contender for “Match of The Day” honors next week. It’ll definitely be one to watch.
Mixed Court 2
DMR/CBF Captain Erica Cossairt and League Commissioner John Ramsey took to the court together for the first time this season, after both dropped their Week 1 matches in straight sets with different partners. This time around, they took on Angie Guillette and Armor Persons who also had fallen in straight sets their last time out.
Together, Erica and John proved stronger than apart. It was a tight match from the outset, with Erica and John squeaking out the first set in a tiebreak (7-4). Angie and Armor bounced back to take the second set 6-3, but couldn’t get a foothold in the match-tiebreak, losing it 3-10. Erica and John will have another doozy of a match next time out against the undefeated Kerry Kendrick and Dave Dekeersmaker. More drama in the making I’d say.
Notes of Interest
- We believe the estimated 700-plus in attendance at Gulf Harbour may be a new SWFL Pro League record.
- During Week 2, 50% of the matches played were decided by match-tiebreaks, and of the 24 individual matches played thus far, 42% have ended in match-tiebreaks. Yep, drama every week folks.
- Pro League hosts are now 2-0 as Mike Curran of Gulf Harbour Joined Palmira’s Paul Segodo in the winning column in Week 2.
The list of undefeated players who have played more than once include Manny Encalada (Court 1 for DMR/CBFJ); Jimmy Martineau (Court 3 for RJ/WT), Christie Pollin & Rob Vinal (Mixed 1 for BG/HD), Kerry Kendrick & Dave Dekeersmaker ((Mixed 1 for PG) Paul Segodo (Courts 2 & 3 for PG), and Jeff Diggs (Court 3 for PG). No big surprise that PG leads the pack, eh?
- BG/HD is the only team that has not had an unplanned substitution (Dean Tsamas who plays Court 1 with Mike Curran is in the Army Reserves and has scheduled absences), squeezing every point from each of the 7 wins they have posted.
- PG, which leads BG/HD by 1/2 point would be leading by 1.5 points if two subs hadn’t contributed to their 8 wins.
Final Week 2 Take
Even after just two events, I suspect I know how the league is going to play out, but there just isn’t enough info to say much more than two teams appear to be clearly battling for the top spot and the other two are scrapping to stay off the bottom. One thing I feel safe in saying is that every Pro League meeting will be rife with competitive drama. See you at Lexington Country Club on