Mcc 2014 Calcutta Tennis Tournament

DSCN2072The Calcutta was an amazing tournament this year.  Although we did not raise as much cash for the Boys & Girls Club of Venice ($402), we did have a great weekend of camaraderie and exceptional sportsmanship this year.  Every player showed genuine concern for fairness.  The athletes were jovial with one another throughout, even when the big money was on the line in the latter stages of the tournament.

Ten teams entered, but unfortunately, only four teams could finish “in the money.”  In the finals of the Gold Division we had Sheelagh Boyd teamed with Mike Skolnik against the fearsome duo of Barbara Rubin and Jack Hubka.  This match as a barn burner, with the outcome in doubt to the very last point.  In the end, Skolnik and Boyd took the Gold trophy 32-28, 31-32, 32-31 in the third set after a see-saw battle in the first two sets.

Mike & Sheelagh

Mike & Sheelagh

In the battle for third place in the main draw, we had Elliot Nache (last year’s finalist) teaming with a newcomer to the Calcutta, Linda Fuller.  On the other side of the net were Maureen Hunt (last year’s Calcutta champ) teamed with Carl Hoppe, another Calcutta virgin.  Linda and Elliot proved to be too much with a deft blend of Elliot’s power and Linda’s consistency, they triumphed in two close sets.

Linda & Elliot

Linda & Elliot


Mio & Jim

In the main draw finals, the two lowest handicapped teams battled it out while the rest of us ate burgers and chips.  Karen Berliner and Carlos Dunkerly (Calcutta champ in 2011) had a handicap of 5, while Mio Charles and Jim Richards came in with a handicap of 4.  Mio and Jim established a tempo right from point one, with Mio being aggressive from the baseline and Jim swarming the net.  Along with a high first serve percentage, they played very high level tennis and never let Carlos and Karen get rhythm or position long enough to make a dent in their armor.  Although Carlos and Karen tried every trick they knew, Mio and Jim had a date with destiny, dominating the final 32-13, 32-21.  Congrats to all who were able to sustain a high level of play in this challenging and unfamiliar format.  Thanks to all the people who donated their time and money for the auction and for this exciting brand of tennis.  I hope to see some more of you participating next year as there’s no tournament like the Calcutta!

Carlos, Karen, Mio, & Jim

Carlos, Karen, Mio, & Jim

Head Demo Day was a success!

We had a great demo day trying out the 2015 Head rackets with Jerome at the Marina City Club this weekend (October 18th).  We plan to do a Prince demo day in the next few months, so keep an eye out for more demo days at Mcc!  Outside public welcome to attend demo days.

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1. Last year, the owner of the winning team paid $575 for that team and won over $1,500.
2. Last year we donated over $400 to the Venice Boys & Girls Club from our auction.
3. The top 4 team owners win money.
4. The Calcutta is handicapped so every player, NO MATTER WHAT LEVEL, has a shot of winning!!!

Pickleball at Mcc

Pickleball is a fun sport played on a paddle tennis court with a horizontal line 7 feet from the net called “The Kitchen.”  You may not volley when your feet are in the kitchen.  You serve underhanded with no bounce.  You only get one serve.  The serving team must let the ball bounce on the return, then after that everyone my hit groundies or volleys except in the kitchen.  You only win points on your team’s serve and it is played to eleven, win by two.  Pickleball uses a small paddle and a thick whiffle ball.

Pickleball Clinic at Marina City Club

Pickleball Clinic at Marina City Club

Jim Ach, from our neighboring California Yacht Club, volunteered to come over and introduce the sport to our members on Wednesday September third.  Seven of our members turned out and had a great time trying the new sport that is reputed to help your reaction time, coordination, and improve your volley for the next time you’re on the tennis court!  It is easy on the arm because the ball weighs so much less than a tennis ball and a match is very quick.  Keep an eye on your email inbox and get on Gene’s tennis email list if you want to be apprised of other upcoming tennis / paddle tennis / pickleball events.  We plan on having another Pickleball event in October!


Mcc Men’s Singles Tennis Tournament

Over the month of August the entrants in our 2014 Men’s Singles Championships played round robin matches with the other players in their group.  There was a Group A and a Group B.  The top two players from each group advanced to the semi-finals on September 6th and the winners in the semis advanced to the Sunday, September 7th men’s final.  Thirteen players entered, with seven in Group A and six in group B.

After over a month of competitive matches, Stephen Hall came out with an undefeated record from Group A and Don Steele emerged from Group B unscathed.  In second place out of Group A came the defending champ, Allan Bledstein and in Group B Carlos Dunkerly edged Mike Levitt for second place.  Thus, the semis were set with Carlos playing Stephen and Alan battling Don.

Carlos and Stephen had some excellent points, but Stephen’s big serve and forehand were a little much, even for the quick Carlos.  Stephen triumphed 6-2, 6-1.

In the second semi-final, Don used his drop-shot and lob to great effect, throwing the defending champ off his rhythm.  Many games went to deuce, with some excellent long points as both players anticipated well throughout, but with effecting defense and some well-timed offense, Don was able to prevail, 6-1, 6-0.

The finals were set, with Don’s consistency, placement, and tennis I.Q. going up against the power and confidence of Stephen’s big shots.  The match began with a long deuce game as both players felt out their opponent.  Three more deuce games followed, Stephen leveling the match at 2-2 after several prolonged rallies had the players moving side to side with great defense.  Don then began to mix up the pace, use the drop shot, lob, and first serve to control the points from the middle of the court.  Stephen hit big topspin forehands, but Don kept the ball in play, eventually forcing errors or moving Stephen out of position, then hitting into the open court.  The first set ended with a short forehand in the net, as Don took it 6-2.

The second set started with another long game, however, Don eased out that game, which set the tone for the second set being much like the first.  Stephen tried to dig into the match, but Don’s consistency was relentless.  Stephen kept his spirits up and the crowd cheered him on, wanting more tennis, but in the end, Don took the second set 6-1; claiming the 2014 Men’s Singles Championship.  Both athletes showed great poise and sportsmanship throughout.

The crowd of about 40 spectators enjoyed the beautiful Sunday tennis along with pizza, sodas, and beer.  We hope that all of you will come out to watch our Calcutta tournament the weekend of October 11 & 12, with the auction in the Galaxy Room on October 10th at 6:30pm.  Come buy a team and support the Boys & Girls Club of Venice!


Mcc 2014 Women’s Singles Championships

This year we got five entrants in the women’s singles championships:  Hillary Bibicoff, Karen Dixon, Maryella Pegnato, Karen Barry, and Madonna Billauer.  Many thanks to the participants, who engaged in round robin matches throughout the month of August.  In the end, Maryella and Karen Barry emerged as the top two players in the round robin.  In their head-to-head matchup Karen Barry prevailed 6-4, 6-4, in a tough match.  Both players showed fight and great sportswomanship throughout.



Gene’s Tennis Tips: Practice Pressure Makes Perfect

Many people practice their serves (hopefully) to make the stroke better, and that works.  As I said earlier in the year, if you can practice your serve 2-3 times per week, then you can see improvement over time.  However, the other problem I frequently hear is, “My serve has been great in practice, I’m nailing it!  But, whenever I go to play a match, I tighten up and it’s good-bye good serve, hello pusher serve.”  I makes me sad to hear that people cannot enjoy their new toy, a better serve, because they get so tensed up in a match.  There is a way to duplicate the pressure of a match when practicing your serve by yourself.  It’s a game you play against an amazing player named Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody is tough, but fair.  When you play Mr. Nobody, you serve every point.  If you get your first serve in, you win the point and Mr. Nobody loses the point, every time.  If you miss your first serve, but get your second serve in, Mr. Nobody wins the point and you lose the point.  If you miss both serves, you lose the game.  Play sets.  First try to win a set (regular scoring) against Mr. Nobody.

If you do that, then make the game a little more difficult by requiring that you hit your first serve harder.  You can do this by saying, that the second bounce must be past the baseline or it does not qualify as a first serve, so I either do it over or it’s a fault and I’m on to the second serve.  If you want to make both serves stronger, then put requirements on your second serve as well:  It must also go over the baseline before the second bounce or it must have slice on it.  Each time, you can add things to make the game harder, while under the pressure of trying to beat Mr. Nobody in a set or three.  There are other ways to modify the basic format if the harshness of losing games for double faults is too much at first, but eventually, you should make every effort to play the game as laid out here to create the pressure of a real match.

If you are able to conquer Mr. Nobody 6-0,  6-0, week after week, then you should be on your way to having a match ready serve that is immune, or at least less susceptible to the whims of match nerves!