When the clay finally settled, several local pros made notable runs on this season’s Fast-Dry & 10-S Tennis Supply USPTA Florida Grand Prix Circuit.
One of the most noteworthy was by Cape Coral pro Erica Cossairt. Not only did she finish first in the mixed open doubles, but she was tied for first in the women’s 35s singles, was fifth in the women’s 45s singles and sixth in the women’s 40s doubles.
“The competition is great,” said Cossairt, who was playing in the circuit for the second straight year. “It’s fun, there’s prize money involved, you get to network with other pros throughout the state and it’s well organized.”
The circuit kicked off at the Delray Beach ITC in February and concluded this past weekend on Williams Island in Aventura.
In between were five other stops throughout Florida, including The Landings and PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
“You get to travel to some of the finest clubs in the state,” said circuit chairman Michael Baldwin. “Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach, Eau Gallie in Melbourne. It’s really exciting.”
Baldwin, the director of tennis at the Club at Mediterra since September, has seen the circuit grow in the three years he has been chairman.
“That was one of my goals,” said Baldwin, who also plays on the circuit. “We’ve grown female participation from just two or three players to two full singles draws and one doubles. It’s a lot more fun.”
Another local player who had a strong season was Fort Myers’ Mike Barnes who tied for first with Fort Myers’ Larry Gagnon in the men’s 60s doubles, was third in the men’s 60s singles and tied for seventh in the men’s 50s doubles.
The Hideaway’s T.A. Niles also did well, tying for second with Cape Coral’s Dave Rowat in the open mixed doubles, finishing third in men’s 50s singles and fourth in men’s 50s doubles.
Other local participants in the top 5 included Colonial’s Steve Shortridge (fourth in men’s 60s singles, tied for second in men’s 60s double, tied for first in 50s mixed doubles), The Sanctuary’s Christie Bradley (tied for first in 50s mixed doubles, fifth in women’s 40s doubles) and Breckenridge’s Armor Persons (tied for fifth in men’s 60s doubles).
Next season will begin on Longboat Key on Jan. 25.
“We should have seven or eight events including The Masters,” said Baldwin. “We look forward to it continuing to grow.”
Count Cossairt in as one of those players participating.
“I’ll definitely sign up again,” said Cossairt. “My goal is to play in more tournaments. It’s fun, there’s money and friends. It’s a win-win situation.”
Log on to courtsideusa.com for more information or contact Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The next stop of the Southwest Florida Pro League will be on Dec. 6 at Fiddlesticks. Matches are expected to begin at 4 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come and cheer on their local pros.
• Tickets are on sale for the FineMark Tour Players Tennis Classic being held Feb. 28 and March 1 at Bonita Bay Club. About 20 of the world’s top touring tennis professionals will be on hand for tennis matches, clinics, a pro-am competition and a dinner-dance gala benefiting Barbara’s Friends — Golisano Children’s Hospital cancer fund. Roy Emerson, Gigi Fernandez, Don Johnson, Rick Leach, David Pate, JoAnne Russell, Owen Davidson and Fred Stolle are among those expected to participate. Tickets are $75 per person before Jan. 15. Go to tourplayerstennisclassic.com or call 343-6950 for more information.