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T.A. Blog 11/16

December 11, 2008 04:54 PM

USTA Florida Grand Prix Masters at Isleworth



If you say Isleworth Golf & Country Club, most may think of the home of Tiger Woods, because that is Isleworth’s primary claim to fame (and Tiger did make a cameo appearance). Yet, it has been the site of USPTA Florida’s Grand Prix Masters event the for the past two years, and I was fortunate enough to participate this year in the invitation only event that is generally reserved for the top four finishers in the USPTA Florida rankings in their various competitive divisions.

USPTA Florida’s final competitive event for the year was held this weekend (Nov. 15-16) at Isleworth. I’d like to say that I earned my way into the draw by finishing in the top four, but I only made it in because one of the more deserving professionals couldn’t make it. My performance left quite a bit to be desired, but I’ve been making lemonade out of lemons for the past couple months or so, and this was the case yet again.

After bowing out in very disappointing fashion to Greg Wheaton, I could feel tennis depression setting in….not because of the loss, but because of the manner in which I lost. Up a break in the second and losing serve at love at 4-3 (with 2 doubles to start the game), then serving at 5-5, 40-30 and not making the necessary shots to hold. Yep, I kicked my own “bleep” all over the lovely grounds of Isleworth…for exactly eight minutes and 34 seconds.

Ha! Did you really believe that? I haven’t really stopped kicking myself (and won’t until I start performing as I expect to perform), but c’mon, if you ever been to Isleworth, or played an event run by Len Simard and his exemplary staff, you’d know why that sour lemon I was tasting after my match morphed quickly into refreshing lemonade.

If you think that the player party with an open bar, dancing with the love of my life (MJ), playing shuffleboard, watching the hula hoop  contest, hanging with some funny guys (Mike Curran, Denny Rager, and Chuck Gill come to mind immediately) had something to do with the sour taste becoming sweet, then you would be spot on.

Ok, I’m going to confess (although it means I’ll probably be taking some heat from my fellow pros):  I actually enjoyed the pro-am we played this morning. I played in the Wimbledon flight with eventual winners Chuck Gill of Ibis Golf & Country Club and his partner Tracey “The Backboard” Stewart of Australia; Frank Swope of Mediterra Country Club and his partner Jerre “The Smiling Assasain” Irvin; and Greg Wheaton of Broken Sound Country Club and his partner Brenda “I Passed the Pro” Nichols. My partner Irene Medary was gracious enough to forgive me for ruining her winning record this year.

Look, losing never feels good, but every loss this weekend was against top notch competition and quality people. Gorgeous day, fantastic venue, great people, how sad can one be? And, although I didn’t play very good tennis myself, Mike Curran, my “Dawg” and boss at Gulf Harbour Golf & Country Club played some sweet ball and won the Men’s 35s.  Adrians Zguns of John’s Island and Paolo Barros of Winter Park Racquet Club played some tour-worthy tennis in the Men’s Open final, with Zguns coming away with a 7-5-in-the-third win.

All in all it was a weekend well-spent, and I owe Len Simard and his staff (Stacy Tully, Marco Herrera, Bill Davidson, and Allie Halbert) a vote of thanks and beaucoup kudos for putting on a quality event and helping me get over my own sad performance. I hope to make the event on my own merits in ’09.

Game, set, match,

T.A. Niles



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.  

Amy, Ft. Myers
It was so exciting having the tournament at our club. It brought out a great feeling of pride and a wonderful sense community. The tennis was excellent and enjoyed by all. I hope that we can host another event like that, it was truly a fun night and I know that many of the Gulf Harbour residents feel the same. Great job Mike, T.A. & Joel!!!!






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