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Tennis Blog 9/22

October 9, 2008 02:00 PM


Niles Already Missing USTA Florida Senior Circuit

When the year began, MJ (my life partner) and I took a look at the USTA Florida and USTA national adult tournament schedules for Men’s 45s, and we set goals of a top-five ranking in Florida and a top-fifty in the country. Reflecting a relatively successful run since my return to competition last spring, the most recent rankings/seeding lists by the USTA (as of 9/12) and USTA Florida (as of 9/8) indicate that we are right on track to attain those goals.

On the current Florida Seeding List, I am the fourth Florida player listed (9th overall).  On the USTA’s 12 Month Rolling Standing List for National Men's 45, I stand at No. 29.  It was with great excitement that I looked forward to the remaining tournaments on the USTA Florida schedule. My game was just rounding into shape again after a month or two of total dissatisfaction.

Thanks to Bob Pfaender of Wilson Sporting Goods and Javier Quiroga of Kirschbaum USA, I finally had a racquet (K Blade Team) and string (Pro Line II, 17) combination that produced both the feel and results that I’ve been looking for since I retired my Pro Staff 6.1 Classic almost a year ago. My workouts with Mike Curran and Joel Hampton at Gulf Harbour, Jared Kalpin at Grandezza, Dave Vaughan and Oliver Stenger and others at Park Meadow helped me feel as though I was ready to represent Southwest Florida well at the State Championships.

However; I recently accepted a full-time position as a USPTA tennis teaching professional, something I have avoided for decades, for precisely the reason I find myself writing this.  It didn’t take very long for me to feel the ramifications of that decision. Since the State Championships were rescheduled from September to October, a very busy time for our club, I won’t be playing. That means the points I accumulated last year for being a finalist will be lost without an effort to defend them. In fact, I’ll miss several tournaments that we had scheduled in efforts to meet our goal.

But that’s part of the life of a tennis professional, and I knew that prior to accepting the job. Tennis pros work six days a week, they have to be “on” for several hours a day, often in oppressive heat, and they have to give up participation in most weekend activities with family and friends.  Fortunately, the facility at which I work, and people with whom I work mitigate the pain of failing to meet what appeared to be an attainable goal. 

Initially I thought that I would have to compete vicariously through the players on the teams that I coach, and the tournament and league players that I teach. But my Tennis Director, Mike Curran, has proven to be very flexible as long as it doesn’t interfere with my obligations to our members, and I will have the pleasure of participating in the 2008 USTA Florida League Mixed Adult Section Championship in Daytona Beach. The following week I will play in the USPTA Florida Grand Prix event at Addison Reserve in Delray Beach.

The rigors of our peak season are just around the corner and I will miss my tournament buddies who play the USTA Florida Men’s 45 circuit. Eric, Gary, Ervin, Mark, Selim, and you other regulars, maybe I’ll see you in the 50s. Fortunately, for one who loves the individual competition of singles, there is also Ultimate Tennis that will test my skills over the next seven weeks. I will also have all that I can handle playing doubles in the Fort Myers Pro League.

As I wrote the above, it occurred to me that although becoming Gulf Harbour’s Head Pro might preclude meeting the goal with which I started the year, I have gained the vicarious experience of competing through the players on the teams that I coach, and the tournament and league players that I teach.  In addition, I should be able to sneak in a USTA tourney every now and then. So rather than lament the current state of things, I think I’ll express tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to play, teach and promote the game we love.

Until next, game, set, match… 

T.A. Niles

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Note: All comments are reviewed for inappropriate content before being posted to the site.  Additionally, due to space constraints, not all comments may be posted in their entirety.

Joan, Upper Darby, PA
T.A., Congratulations on your new position; I know you'll do well. I'm sure you'll be able to play and WIN other tourneys. I'm proud of you. Go GET them TIGER.

Celia, Estero
This is what I have always loved about you - always able to put things in perspective.

Alex, Washington, DC
I would like to congratulate T.A. Niles on another outstanding column. From my "perch" in the Mid-Atlantic , I always enjoy T.A.'s insight and experiences. Keep up the great work!

MJ, Fort Myers
I admit I may be biased, but my guess is the Men's 45s will not be quite the same without you there, babe!  You are a worthy opponent, a stalwart competitor and a consummate gentleman (on and off the courts). Your ready smile, genuine camaraderie, occasional resonant "Ave Maria con jo!" and your always fun to watch displays of the game you love will most assuredly be missed by players and fans alike. The tournament circuits loss is Gulf Harbour's gain! 

Deb, Sun City
Hi T.A., Good Blog, as always. It's a shame to miss playing in those tournaments but it sounds like you have other good things to take the place. Thanks for sharing as always.

JLD, Davis, Calif.
I am just happy that Niles is doing what he was born to do -- play tennis, teach tennis, write about tennis.

Steve, Boca Raton
Sounds like you are busy and I think I'd give up my job to do what you are doing. If I play twice a week, I consider myself lucky! Enjoy it while you can.






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