February 20, 2017
So, we took our traditional season-opening trip to Orlando and the kids had a blast.
That's what it's all about.
We had a nice match with Lyman High School, which is coached by the legend himself - Jack Bloomingdale. Big Jack used to run the state tournament and we've been friends since my first season in 2003. Jack's a humble guy. I didn't know he had a tryout with the New York Jets, alongside Joe Namath, until about 10 years after I met him.
Our kids played well against Lyman and it was nice to get some confidence.
After spending the night at the Embassy Suites in Altamonte Springs and dining at Bucca de Beppo, we traveled to east for a match against the Lake Nona Lions at the USTA's National Campus, the new home to American Tennis.
Former Leon Lion Josh Record helped enormously in setting up the match and we were able to play on the stadium court, which featured live streaming, so the parents who did not make the trip could watch their kids at home on the computer.
The boys pulled out a 4-3 victory as senior captain Scott Epting carried the day, winning both his singles and doubles matches. The kid has learned how to close on the net and finish points. He has much to teach his young compadres.
Will Bullen and Will Green also pulled out dramatic singles victories, winning in decisive 10-point tie-breakers.
Although the girls lost 5-2, there were plenty of bright moments. Sophomore Jules Grady is probably the most improved player on either squad. She is quickly learning that she can play with just about anybody in singles. And in doubles, Grady teamed with Anna Cay Ford to figure some things out tactically. Although they lost their match, they played a tough second set, utilizing the I-formation and the lob to keep their talented opponents off stride.
Tory Russell had a nice win at No. 5 singles, while freshman Abby Birkmeier and Tiffany Stout posted a big come-from-behind win at No. 2 doubles.
We've got a busy week ahead as we face Maclay, Lincoln and Niceville. As long as we keep getting a little better with each passing day, I'll be a happy guy.