The Dominican Express and "Never Give Up" Nguyen battled it out in the FTT season opener finals
Orlando, Florida- Dominican Republic's Giancarlo Escotto ran over the field at the FTT Florida Tennis Tour season opener at the downtown Orlando Tennis Center. Living up to his Dominican Express moniker with his huge serves and powerful strokes, he looked deadly on the clay courts.
The Florida Tennis Tour is sponsored by the City of Orlando Tennis Center, Dragon Promotions, DC AC Air Conditioning & Heating, RealRealCool.com, Love Orlando, OrlandoTennisNews.com, and Orlando City Commissioner Regina I. Hill. The Official Balls of the FTT Downtown Orlando stop was Dunlop.
"I'm faster, stronger, and playing better than ever", said the Davis Cup player for Dominican Republic. Escotto went undefeated in the tournament with wins over Charlie Williams (Avalon Park) 8-0, Santiago Garcia (Cocoa Beach) 8-5, James Nguyen (VIE) 8-5, and Nguyen again 8-2 in the finals.
The powerful and agile Escotto has an overwhelming prescence on the court
But other players shined in the event as well, including Santiago Garcia, the #3 seed in the event. The Cocoa Beach resident played a good match against Escotto losing 8-5, but Garcia posted victories 8-4 over Edward Perez #1 at St.Cloud High School and 8-1 over Colombia's Alejandro Herrera who plays for Warner University Tennis Team. Garcia was recovering from a 1 month sebatical from a shoulder injury from his school's wrestling match.
Santiago "Smooth" Garcia has a sweet stroke and all around game
"I'm pretty happy with my performance. This was a perfect way to shake off the rust and see where I'm at", said Garcia. Santiago was just recently accepted to NC State University on a tennis scholarship. He adds,
"The FTT really stands out to me because it is a very effective way to compete against players of all levels, in a short and convenient amount of time. The atmosphere, players, and fans that participate in the FTT all make it an exciting experience, one that makes me love the game even more. "
"The Florida Tennis Tour is a great concept in that it enables players to compete at a very high level and yet is economical in that they don't have the burden of expenses and lengthy tournament days. This is the direction that US tennis needs in having more competitions for players" , said Tom Sweitzer, Tennis Hall of Famer & recent recipient of the Orlando Tennis Man of the Year. Sweitzer is a Master Pro Instructor and Facility Manager of the City of Orlando Tennis Center
Players line up to try for the "Ace Pot" !
Besides innovations in the format and benefits on the FTT, Williams introduced the "Ace Pot". Players got a chance to take only one serve to hit a tennis ball in the service box off their serve. The winner would win a free entry into the next FTT event. If no one would hit it, the pot would grow bigger for the next event. All the players were given one chance but no one hit the ball. More money in the pot for the next event!
Colombia's Herrera of Warner University Tennis moves into the FTT Top 10 Rankings after a match win
Winter Park's Omar Sanchez defeated Oakridge High School's #1 Cesar Andini 8-4 in a tough match that saw both players move up in their FTT rankings.
"The Florida Tennis Tour is a good way for a player my level to mix it up with the better players. I know I'm going to get to play at least two matches and have fun playing with the best in the area", said Omar Sanchez. Omar is also now the official FTT Rankings Administrator and will be updating the rankings after every event on OrlandoTennisNews.com . The highest ranked players attending are always seeded and also eligible for bonus prize money and prizes at the end of the season.
Sanchez ready to receive Andini's serve
Andini Cesar playing in every FTT event to improve his game
Edward Perez finished 3rd in the event and won some prize money back. He defeated FTT Founder Charlie Williams and Omar Sanchez. "This is the first time I ever won any prize money in tennis. It's about time! I think I'm going to start playing in the Florida Tennis Tour events from now on."
Perez's big serve came in handy en route to his 3rd place finish
The player who gets the most heart award for the event was James "Never Give Up" Nguyen. Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen now resides in West Orlando. Nguyen defeated Herrera 8-5, Sanchez 8-0, Perez 8-2. He played an intense match against Escotto in a battle deemed David vs Goliath. The demure 5'5 Vietnamese looked like dynamtie on the courts as he scrambled and grinded out every point. Losing 0-4 at the start, he climbed back to make the match a much closer 7-5 deficit. He succumbed to Escotto's power in the 13th game to lose 8-5.
"He is a very good player. It was too difficult to stop his power. But I'm happy with my performance. I'll have to figure out a different strategy for him next time!", said the affable Nguyen.
"James earned a lot of respect from the players for the way he played against Escotto. He definitely gave him a hard time", said Charlie Williams, Executive Producer for the FTT and Dragon Promotions.
"Never Give Up" Nguyen gave his all in an all heart effort against Escotto.
Escotto moves up from #3 to the #1 spot in the Florida Tennis Tour Rankings. Nguyen also moves up taking over the #3 spot from Mexico's Rafael Bejar. Garcia, Sanchez, Andini, and Herrera all move into the FTT Top 10.
The next Florida Tennis Tour event will be March 19th-20th in at the Walt Disney World ESPN Wide World of Sports Tennis Complex! Stay tuned this week for the full updated 2016 FTT schedule on www.OrlandoTennisNews.com. Every entrant earns a FTT ranking and all players of all skills levels welcomed, including women, for a low $35 entry fee and no membership fees. So tell a friend and bring a friend to the next event!
"This is a tour built for the players. There's a lot of "working man" tennis players out there that play great, and developing players that can learn from them through competition. Now these players can play for money, top notch competition, and get seen and promoted in a way never seen before in tennis for this level", explains Williams.
Escotto is also a USPTA & USPTR certified coach and teaches in english and spanish. He can be reached at 321-900-7283
Williams, a lowly 4.0, joins in the fun in the season opener of his tour and gets the pleasure of being demolished by Escotto in the first round. Williams would like to note, he did win 10 points! High school players, academy juniors, local amateurs, all the way up to 6.0 open level and Davis Cup players are entering the Florida Tennis Tour events.
No player is turned away.