Note 1: You can check the individual matches and scores by clicking on Results under the “Events” tab on the SWFL Pro League website homepage. 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. And, you can find more of Katrina Ramsey’s fantastic photos on the SWFL Pro League Facebook page.
Note 2: Matches at Fiddlesticks on the second will start at 3pm (Courts 3, 4, and both mixed); Courts 1 & 2 scheduled for 4:30pm or when 3pm matches end.
Given that we are smack-dab in the middle of football season, I suppose you’ll forgive me if I say that the third edition of the 2016 – 17 SWFL Pro League season sponsored by Summit Broadband and Ritzman Tennis Courts, and hosted by Lexington Country Club, represented the end of the first quarter of the Pro League season. In a season already chock-full-o drama, spectators witnessed what may have been the most dramatic moment of the 2016-17 season as the clock ticked down on that first quarter (see below). Indeed, the action at Lexington was as dramatic as any we’ve seen thus far.
Again, half of the matches played at Lexington’s scenic site ended in tiebreaks, five of those in match-tiebreaks. The most dominant team of the season’s first quarter, Prographix (PG) sustained its dominance but had to go to the wire in four of six matches to maintain supreme status. The third and fourth-place teams flip-flopped yet again, both scratching and biting to stay out of basement (Bad metaphor for Florida huh? Oh well…).
Setting the stage, Jim Katterfield’s league-leading ProGraphx (PG) came into the third
week with a half-point lead over Christie Pollin’s second-place Blagojevic Group & Harborside Dental (BG/HD), and took to the court against third-place Dina Marie Realty & Cedar Brook Financial (DMR/CBF) led by Erica Cossairt. Blagojevic Group & Harborside Dental (BG/HD) matched up with Shawn Hedrick’s league-trailing Raymond James and Welch Tennis (RJ/WT), a team fighting to take a step up from the lowest rung on the Pro League ladder.
DMR/CBF vs. PG
This team match between DMR/CBF and PG was as competitive as any we’ve seen thus far. Four of the six matches, two in the early (4pm) matches and two in the later (5:30pm) matches went to match-tiebreaks. Things didn’t look great for DMR/CBF early, as PG swept all three of the 4pm matches.
Jeff Timmer and Mike Stevens (sub) downed Matt Maloney and Paul D’Amico on Court 4 in one match-tiebreak, winning the first set 6-3, losing the second 4-6 and taking the match-tiebreak 10-5. The loss brought D’Amico and Maloney’s record together to 1-1 after having won their match-tiebreak the previous session at Gulf Harbour. It was Jeff’s first outing on Court 4, and he made the most of it with the always reliable Mike Stevens. Due to the sub situation, Matt and Paul kept the point total even at 1-1 on Court 4.
Mixed Court 1
Dominique Levin returned to her winning ways for PG, this time with former Court 4 player Rick Calton at her side. They took on Lexington hosts Kimberly Jones and Christian Karlovits. The home team gave it all they had, but there was too much firepower across the net this time around. Kim and Christian tasted defeat for the first time, falling to Dominique and Rick, 4-6, 3-6.
Mixed Court 2
There have been two dominant mixed doubles teams thus far this season, and one of the two has been PG’s Kerry Kendrick and Dave Dekeersmaker. Prior to their matchup against DMR/CBF’s Captain Erica Cossairt and League Commissioner John Ramsey at Lexington, they hadn’t dropped a set. Erica and John seemed determined to spoil Kerry and Dave’s undefeated record, and took the first set in a tiebreak, 7-1.
Kerry and Dave found their stride in the second, however, and took it 6-3 and the match-tiebreak 10-3. They remained one of just two mixed teams to finish the first quarter of the season undefeated.
Going into the 5:30pm session, PG had swept the 4pm matches and led DMR/CBF 5-2. The top three courts in the later session would determine whether PG’s dominance of the League would persist.
Court 3 has been a dominant position for PG thus far, with Jeff Diggs winning with Paul Segodo twice and a sub once at that position to remain undefeated. Paul himself has put maximum points on the board every time out for PG as well, winning those two matches with Jeff on Court 3, but also teaming with Joel Hampton for a win on Court 2. Paul and Jeff didn’t disappoint, sweeping both sets against John Jerome & Oliver Stenger, 6-2 6-2.
At this point, it wasn’t looking very good for DMR/CBF who had battled back into third place in the league by a half-point after Gulf Harbour’s event. After four matches, they were trailing 4-0 in matches and 7-2 in points. Still two to play before the final tally though.
In came the cavalry in the form of DMR/CBF’s Frank Fourgeau and Luke Andreae. Frank and Luke seemed to have had just about enough of going down in match-tiebreaks on Court 2 as they took on Joel Hampton and Elliot Debolt. I think Frank and Luke just like the drama, because surprise, surprise, the match went to a match-tiebreak. Frank and Luke started as though they intended to end things in a hurry, taking the first set 6-2. But Joel and Elliot hadn’t had enough court time, and stretched things out when they took the second set 6-4. Nobody was giving quarter in that tiebreak, but Frank and Luke were determined not to be the only Court 2 team without a win after the first quarter and eventually took the decider, 10-8. CMR/DBF was on the board with a win, but Joel and Elliot had still posted a point for PG. The score was a smidge closer with PG leading 8-4.
Manuel Encalada flew in on his pink cape and couldn’t do more than keep his undefeated streak alive and post another two points for his team. That is exactly what he did, this time teaming with regular partner Dave Rowat for the first time this season. It was no walk in the part for Manny and Dave, as they were tested against the dynamic Sergio Rebolledo and the rejuvenated Jonas Kushner. Jonas was seeking some redemption, given that his first Pro League action
wasn’t quite up to his usual standards, and he delivered at Lexington. Manny and Dave dropped the first set 3-6, but then, in the words of an observer, “Manny took it to another level; a level I didn’t know he had.” Be that as it may, it was a war on that court, with Manny and Dave taking the second set 6-4, and then claiming the match-tiebreak 10-5. Wish I had been around to see that one.
In the end, DMR/CBF posted a 2-1 win in the second session of the evening, and notched 4 points to PG’s 3.5. Having won Courts 1 & 2, DMR/CBF had closed the gap somewhat on PG, but hadn’t slowed down the first-quarter juggernaut, which still had won four of the six matches played.
BG/HD vs RJ/WT
BG/HD was the team that posted the most points in the Pro League opener at Palmira. They posted 10 points on that day, the highest total tallied during the first quarter of the season. BG/HD had stumbled at Gulf Harbour, notching just five points during the second session. Yet, they were coming into Lexington trailing PG by just a half-point. They were facing RJ/WT, a team that hadn’t put more than five points on the board in the two previous outings and were trailing the league by 1.5 points. Opportunity seemed to be knocking on BG/HD’s door, and we’d have to wait until evening’s end to see if they would answer the knock.
Mixed Court 1
It appeared that BG/HD had every intention of answering that knock, as the other dominant mixed team in the League, Captain Christie Pollin and Rob Vinal, won their encounter with Renee Deane and Terry See (sub), 6-4, 6-1. Christie and Rob have finished two of their three opponents in straight sets, have notched the only bagel set in mixed-doubles play, and dished up Dominique Levin’s only loss in an 11-9 thriller at Gulf Harbour. BG/HD seemed on track to give PG a run for their league-leading money.
Mixed Court 2
Without his usual partner Angie Guillette at hand, Armor Persons teamed with Christie Bradley (sub) to slow down the BG/HD train, winning the match for RJ/WT over Carolyn Lawver and Dan Moenning in straight sets. I suspect Dan still isn’t 100% and Carolyn never complains, but I’m guessing she has felt better on court as well. Although the early matches between these two teams now stood at 1-1, BG/HD still led the early session 2-1 because of the RJ/WT sub.
There was little doubt that this match would be hard fought, because all Court 4 matches this season have been hard fought. In the six matches played on Court 4 this season, five have ended in match-tiebreaks, and the one that didn’t end in a match-tiebreak featured a first-set tiebreak. BG/HD’s Mike Lawver and Pat Glaunert had won one of their two match-tiebreaks coming in, and had just missed grabbing “Match of The Day” honors in their first match at Palmira.
Charles Nelson Junior and I had lost our previous match-tiebreak at Gulf Harbour in a disappointing performance, and early on in our match, it was obvious that we were going to need a match-tiebreak win to post points for our team. Mike and Pat jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the match, but as I often tell my students, “That’s just one set. Gotta win at least two in tennis.” Of course I’m talking traditional tennis here. In any event, Charles and I came back to win the second set 7-6(5), but found ourselves down 2-5 in the match-tiebreak, quick, fast, and in a hurry as Mike and Pat continued their solid play. Charles and I came back again to go up 9-7, but didn’t answer the door when opportunity knocked.
And then for the most dramatic finish of the season thus far. I was serving at 9-10 in the match-tiebreak to Pat. I hit the serve, came down, heard a loud pop and looked around as I was falling to see who hit me. It was my Achilles Tendon giving up the ghost. Dang that Pat! The least he could have done was miss the return. Instead, he returned it, and he and Mike prevailed 11-9 after saving two match points. This time, there was no doubt that Mike and Pat had earned “Match of The Day” honors.
With that win, BG/HD won the early session and took a 4-2 lead into the late session. They were close to the pace set by PG, and it would be up to the RJ/WT’s top three courts to stop the bleeding and keep the team from the bottom of the heap. Fortunately for RJ/WT, we had our entire squad on hand at Lexington, and BG/HD did not.
RJ/WT’s Todd Wise and Jimmy Martineau may just be the best Court 3 team, but until they get past PG’s Paul Segodo and Jeff Diggs, they’ll have to wait to make that claim. Neither of those teams have lost on Court 3, but Todd did take a tumble at that slot without Jimmy, while Jeff held his serve with a win when Paul played elsewhere. In any event, Todd and Jimmy faced off against Larry Gagnon and Tom Fisher (sub), in this match, and they did what was expected of them. They posted a straight-set victory to even up the score. BG/HD 4, RJ/WT 4.
Captain Shawn Hedrick teamed with Jared Kalpin’s permanent replacement, Jean Luis Perez, to take down Corey Knapp and Jarrod Goare (sub) in straight sets, bringing Shawn’s record to 2-0. With Jean Luis added to the mix permanently on Court 2, RJ/WT has a good shot at being competitive and posting substantial points at that position. Subs are great, but hard to gain points with subs in the lineup. When Sam Desimone returns, Corey should find himself back in the hunt on Court 2 as well. Shawn and Jean Luis’ win moved RJ/WT into the lead, 6-4.
RJ/WT’s top team of Paulo Barros and Ryan Sherry is a team I expected to put up big numbers for our team. After the first quarter, that duo is 1-1, and not yet threatening DMR/CBF’s dominance at that position. But life is tough at the top, and this time around, Paulo and Ryan made it tough for the Robbie Greenlaw and Lucas Vaz. Unfortunately for BG/HD, their top team of Mike Curran and Dean Tsamas were both unavailable (the former picking an award for excellence, the other serving his
country), and you need your top dawgs to battle Paulo and Ryan successfully. Lucas and Robbie did not go down easily…at least not in the second set. Ryan and Paulo eased to a 6-1 victory in the first set, but they needed a tiebreak in the second (8-6) to close things out. The RJ/WT victory on Court 1 meant a sweep of the 5:30pm session and an 8-4 points advantage. When opportunity knocks, you had better answer or she’ll go next door. Charles and I experienced that in our match, and BG/HD couldn’t take advantage of playing what was, at the opening bell, the fourth-place team.
Week 3 Out-takes
- An estimated 500 fans were in the stands or standing for the Lexington engagement
- 50% of the matches ended in tiebreaks, with five of those six featuring match-tiebreaks
- ProGraphx emerged as the dominant team of the first quarter with a 5-point lead over its closest pursuer
- We had the first loss for an event host. Sorry Kimberly; wish it weren’t so.
The list of undefeated players who have played more than once includes: Manny Encalada (Court 1) for DMR/CBF; Shawn Hedrick (Court 2) and Jimmy Martineau (Court 3) for RJ/WT; Christie Pollin & Rob Vinal (Mixed 1) for BG/HD; and Kerry Kendrick & Dave Dekeersmaker (Mixed 1) Paul Segodo (Courts 2 & 3), and Jeff Diggs (Court 3) for PG. We’ll see if any can make it through the season. Only one of the above has done it before to my knowledge and that’s Manny.
- Team MVPs are the players putting up the most points for their team. We may refine
this as we get closer to the end, but for the first quarter Team MVPs include
- PG- Paul Segodo, Jeff Diggs, Kerry Kendrick & Dave Dekeersmaker all with 3 points
- BG/HD- Christie Pollin & Rob Vinal (3 points)
- RJ/WT- Jimmy Martineau (3 points)
- DMR/CBF- Manny Encalada (3 points)
- Most exciting team of the first quarter goes to Mike Lawver and Pat Glaunert for their three match-tiebreaks and the most dramatic of finishes at Lexington.
Final Week 3 Take
I’d like to welcome Jean Luis Perez (replacing Jared Kalpin on RJ/WT), Nick Maurillo (replacing Denny Rager for PG), and Rick Hanover (new pro at Gateway replacing me on RJ/WT) to their new teams. I’d also like to thank the players and fans for welcoming be back after a long layoff and I sure will miss you all over the next few weeks, but we will keep the coverage coming. Don’t forget, early matches 3pm this Friday at Fiddlesticks with late matches after that. Perhaps I’ll see you there. Game, set, match…