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23rd Annual Turkey Bowl Tennis Championships

September 23, 2009 11:06 AM


23rd Annual Turkey Bowl Tennis Championships

To play, or not to play on Thanksgiving Day? That is the question…well, maybe not that day but the weekend anyway. For me the answer was pretty simple. Of course I’m going play!

Thanksgiving generally means family get-togethers, football, and stuffed turkeys…and not just those with wings either. But to South Floridians who love intense tennis competition, both playing and viewing, it also means the 23rd Annual Turkey Bowl Tennis Championships.

Garnering a title sponsor in this troubled economic climate is no mean feat, but Tournament Director Keith Dunlop has managed to land Compass Financial USA as the event’s title sponsor, and the event will again be held at the Swim & Racquet Center in Boca Raton, Florida.

Dunlop is hoping for a year as successful as last, when there was a Men’s Open draw of over 100 players, with at least 15 carrying ATP Tour points. A prize money event during school holiday is almost guaranteed to draw top collegiate players home for the break, and this year’s Turkey Bowl appears to be no exception. After reviewing early entries for this year’s event, Dunlop remarked, “I think we are going to get our most talented and deepest field ever. Word seems to be out there that this is a great tournament. Lots of kids are coming on their college break to play this. From SC, GA,VA, AL, NC, NY, RI, TN,...etc.”

Dunlop is quick to name some of the high profile ATP players that have participated in the Turkey Bowl, including notables such as Carling Bassett, Andy Roddick and Gael Monfils. He’s not shy about touting top college performers either, naming last year’s Women’s Open Champion, Irina Falconi, who is now a Freshman at NCAA Champion Georgia Tech, and who recently teamed with NCAA women’s singles champion Amanda McDowell to win the 2008 Riviera/ITA Women’s All American Championships doubles crown.

Fortunately, in addition to the “wannabees,” including some who are likely to reach the professional tours, there are opportunities at the Turkey Bowl for the “has-beens,” and “never-wases” as well. There will be men’s and women’s draws in the 35, 45, and 55 divisions.

I won’t say to which category I belong, but the initials are “NW.” Regardless of the category and the condition of my game (which I don’t want to discuss), I’ll be swinging my stick and flinging the felt in Boca Thanksgiving weekend. Despite a limited schedule and less than stellar performances of late, I may still be able to collect a few more ranking points to solidify a top five spot in Florida’s Men’s 45 Final Ranking.

At the start of 2008, MJ (my life partner) and I set a goal of reaching the top five in Florida and the top fifty nationally in the Men’s 45 Division. With only one Category II national event left, and only the Turkey Bowl offering an opportunity to gain additional points for the year, it appears as though we just may reach the year’s objective.

Worst case scenario? I’m going to hang with family and friends, eat good food, and play at least one tennis match. I know I’m going to be thankful next week regardless of my performance.

If you’re anywhere near Boca and love to play, and are reading this on or before Sunday November 23, it’s not too late to register to play. If you just want to watch some quality tennis, come on out to the Swim & Racquet Center November 26 – 30 and be thankful you aren’t in Minnesota, or New England, or somewhere else where body parts shrivel up outdoors. I’ll see you there!

Game, set, match,

Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving on Black Friday



The traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl is well underway at the Swim and Racquet Club in Boca, and so far the seeding has held up well for Tournament Directors Steve Sheer and Keith Dunlop. In the Men’s Open, six of the top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals, and three of the top four reached the semifinals.

Matej Bocko, seeded five, dispatched No.1 seed Hyung Kwon Kim 6-0, 6-4; No.2 seed Devin Mullings, who recently played Davis Cup for The Bahamas, dispatched Bowen Ouyang 6-2, 6-1; Ty Trombetta, seeded No.3, beat local product and Northwestern University recruit, Spencer Wolf 6-3, 6-3; and Andreas Siljestroem, the 6’ 9” fourth seed, eliminated sixth seed Jonathan David 6-4, 7-5.

Obviously I am hoping that there is absolutely no relationship between the Men’s Open and the Men’s 45, because the No.1 seed was not among the final four in the Open, and I’m seeded No.1 in the Men’s 45. I definitely want to be among the final four this weekend…in fact, I would love to win the thing. But win or lose, I’m looking forward to playing some tennis tomorrow.

Ok, bear with me now. I know Thanksgiving is over except for the post-holiday shopping during which store clerks get trampled to death, and for which people wake up at “0-dark-30” in the morning to stand in line with awfully-hard-to-come-by money burning holes in their pockets, but I want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving anyway.

I’ve thought for some time about what I could write in honor of Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t totally hokey! A crisis of creativity one might call it. I mean, there are so many people to whom I am grateful for all that they have contributed, that I might as well just write “Thank You” and put the extremely long list of people after it. But that wouldn’t work for you, would it? Me neither.

I mean, should I begin the “Thank You” list with my mom who hand-made my tennis shorts when my friends and I played the public parks as kids?

Or perhaps my loving partner and trusty editor MJ, who is there for me even when my tennis game is on the skids?

How about my old coach and friend, Phil Gordon, without whom I might never have struck a ball?

Or shouId I start with Chuck Hitt whose help was always there with only a letter or phone call?

Should John Payne head the list because of the encouragement and entry fees he paid without request or expectation?

Or my long-time, trusted friend Roselyn, who shared many post match blues along with the elation?

Would it be more appropriate to thank Mike Curran (my boss and friend) first, whose flexibility allows these forays into the tournament world?

Despite the fact that things back at Gulf Harbour might be caught up in the country club tennis swirl?

Surely Tori Townsend, José Medina, and Trina Singian without whom there’d be no blog should be mentioned here

And how could I leave out other members of the USTA Florida crew, like Susie Bessire, Lynne Salus or Bobby Curtis and Doug Booth, old colleagues from yesteryear?

And where would I be without people like Angel Rodriguez who is truly aptly named, or Marius Espeleta, Dave Vaughan, and Oliver Stenger with whom I search for my elusive game?

No way I could leave out Ultimate Tennis Czar Scott Nunn, whose singles league has provided me hours of competition and just plain fun

What about those not connected to tennis at all, but who have helped guide me through the stumbles and falls?

Michael Hecht and Walter Roettger, mentors who have helped shaped my present and my past, and…

Ok, ok, I’ll let them be the very last or I’ll go on until you think I’m truly daft.

But there really is one other note of gratitude that I absolutely must do, and that, of course, has to be to you.

Without your willingness to read the words I write I wouldn’t be writing this tonight.

I hope that somewhere between the turkey and pies you took the time to give some thanks as well, and that my gratitude to you and to all rang loud and clear as a chapel bell.

Geez, that was still pretty hokey, but…game, set, match. I’m out.

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