SW Fla. tennis competition intense

Two of the most popular features of the Sterling Oaks Spring Tennis Championships (sponsored by Sneaky Pete’s for the previous 16 years) in North Naples are that participants can compete in more than one division and coordinate with club staff in arranging matches during the one-week tourney.

Four particular players made the most of it, attaining maximum playing time and many accolades.

Local outstanding pros Jesse Witten, who has competed on the ATP Tour, and Jonathan David, a teacher at the Gomez Tennis Academy in Naples, traded lots of shots.

In back-to-back matches during the March 19 tournament finals, Witten beat David 6-1, 6-1, for the men’s open crown; Witten was also part of the championship men’s open doubles team, partnering with Magnus Johnson to top David and Alexander Butarciac, 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile, two women each took different paths toward notching two titles each earlier in the week. In her tournament debut, Caroline Cook won the women’s open title, 6-3, 6-4, over Dante Hart, and the 15-year-old from North Naples teamed with David also to capture the mixed doubles open crown, 6-1, 6-2, over Zana Ameti and Blu Baker.

“We had lots of good points. She’s very talented,” said Cook of her singles’ opponent.

Winning the mixed open title was especially gratifying and fun for her as David is one of her teachers at the Gomez facility where she’s been enrolled for four years, — and Ameti and Baker also play there.

“He’s such an amazing player. It was a learning experience,” she said of David, adding that the academy is especially helping her “improve my reactions, particularly at the net” and is highly supportive of her goal of eventually playing tennis for a Division I college.

“The training is intense; they help you whatever your goals are.”

Michelle Maggal has been active in USTA and USPTA leagues, sometimes representing Heritage Bay, in her five years as a seasonal North Naples resident. She’ll bring women’s 3.5 singles and 7.0 doubles (partnering with Jo Ann Charlton) titles back with her when she returns soon to Somers, N.Y.

“I was pretty familiar with the courts as Jo Ann is a Sterling Oaks member and I play with her sometimes,” said Maggal, particularly pleased that they mounted a comeback to pull out the doubles title over Francoise Goodrow and Lani Wheeler, both of Naples, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6).

“We got into the hang of it. It was a little more of a challenge for me as I play singles more,” in which she topped Aimee Hummel of Naples, 6-4, 7-5.

The tourney, cosponsored by Hamilton Mikes PA and Fish Crazy restaurant, involved 150 entrants in 16 separate men’s and women’s divisions. A total of $4,500 in prize money and certificates to ProAm Tennis plus other prizes were distributed to all finalists.

The divisions and winners were: men’s open singles — Jesse Witten, Naples; women’s open singles — Caroline Cook, Naples; men’s singles — Thomas Zucchi, Naples, 4.5; Tyler Daugherty, Bonita Springs, 4.0; Ed Kokkila, Naples, 3.5; Kenny Bastani, Naples, 3.0; women’s singles — Michelle Maggal, Somers, N.Y., 3.5; Adelka Laszlo, Laval, Quebec, 3.0; men’s doubles — Witten and Magnus Johnson, Dallas, Open; Laszlo Nagy, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Dennis Posteraro, St. Mary’s Penn., 8.0; Mark Nevarez and Ralph Oswald, both of Estero, 7.0; and Stephen Cissne, Huntington Valley, Penn., and Earl Solberg, Naples, 6.0; mixed doubles — Cook and Jonathan David, both of Naples, Open; Lynne Hancock and John McDaniel, both of Naples, 8.0; Bill Meacham and Corey Stranger, both of Naples, 7.0, and women’s doubles — Maggal and JoAnn Charlton, Naples. 7.0.

Beyond the gate

USPTA Master Professional Stan Oley of Viera, Florida, gave Beach and Tennis Club, Bonita Springs, members a clinic and his Tennis IQ Test, March 15… The Lee County Community Tennis Association will host a public wheelchair play demo on April 1 and a USTA Florida Wheelchair Tournament, April 2 and 3, at Three Oaks Tennis Center at Barbara Manzo Park … The Colony Golf & Country Club will host the Swing for a Cure golf tournament and other activities supporting the Regional Cancer Center’s Research Fund at Lee Memorial Health System on April 4.


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