FTT Founder Charlie Williams, Escotto, Carlos Goffi, & Medina
Beautiful day for Florida Tennis Tour tennis at Disney
Dominican Express vs the Venezuelan Eagle
Kissimmee, Florida- It seemed destined that the Florida Tennis Tour #1 Giancarlo "Dominican Express" Escotto and Orlando Tennis News Player of the Year Jhonnatan Medina of Venezuela to collide in the finals of the FTT Disney Stop at the prestigious ESPN Wide World of Sports. A full field gathered on Saturday morning although the rain came shortly after the first matches began on the clay courts. Players came from all over and as far away as Maryland, Alabama, Daytona, Jacksonville, and representing countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, India, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Lebanon, Chile and of course the USA.
The event was sponsored by Florida Tennis Resurfacing, Commissioner Regina I. Hill, Khoa Nguyen Realty, Kurt Collis Tennis Academy, David Roberts & The Sounds of Sinatra, Tennis Plaza, PGA Superstore Orlando, and Tennis Resorts of Disney. The Official Ball used in the event was Prince.
Top: Coach Jerry Fekete, Carlos Goffi, Charlie Williams. Coach Kurt Collis, Barbara Souci.
Bottom: Jaime Oncins, Escotto, Medina.
Despite the dreadful rain delay which forced the 2 day event to be done all in one day on Sunday, nearly all the players returned back to play. Amazingly, 4 tournaments were all accomplished in a span of 6 hours! Thanks to the expert FTT team of Tournament Directors Coach Hill Marks, Coach Jerry Fekete, FTT President Charlie Williams, along with legendary Carlos Goffi and his capable crew.
The diverse field included players from all ages and all skill levels wanting their share of the FTT experience in its unique one tournament for any player philosophy. The youngest entrant was 9 year old Gabriel Marin who lost in a close tie-break to one of the few female players in the event, Barbara Souci of Deland. Another junior who made some noise was 12 year old Sanjeev Gurshaney, a top 5 12s USTA from Alabama. Sanjeev had an impressive win over collegiate player John Jackson of Jacksonville to make the quarter-finals before losing to Davis Cup player Escotto. Still, Gurshaney won the Top FTT Junior Medal and finished 5th and made into the prize money, a first in his young career!
Sanjeev with his coach Jerry Fekete the Tennis Doctor
Omar Ammouni of Lebanon now #16 in the FTT.
Out of the youngsters, it was 18 year old Daniel Levitan who demonstrated his abilities with a super strong semi-finals finish losing to Medina in the end 8-1. In the quarter-finals, Daniel was down 15-40 in triple match point also trailing 1-5 in games. He came all the way back before his opponent from Uzbekistan had to retire from an injury. With his 3rd
place in the singles, and 1st in the Doubles, Levitan not only resoundingly claimed the Top Teen Titan Award but made a very nice payday for himself cashing in both events.
"This is the first time I ever made money in a tennis tournament!" reacted Levitan when informed of his profits for the day's play in tennis. Levitan is also a student from the acclaimed Nike Tennis Camps pioneered by Carlos Goffi who enrolled him in the FTT.
Top to bottom clockwise: #5 FTT Omar Sanchez of Winter Park. 9 yr old Gabriel Marin holds the FTT record as youngest competitor. #6 FTT Cesar Andini of Oakridge High. Lakeland's Benjamin Earle moves to #12 in the FTT. Former ATP pro Luiz Miotto of Brazil now #1 in FTT Doubles. Gabriel Andrew of Venezuela ranked #17 now. JAX's Jason Sykes moves to #3 in FTT Doubles and #15 in singles. Khoa Nguyen of Dr.Phillips finished 5th and moves into the FTT Top 10.
Vietnam's now Orlando resident James "Vietnamese Flash" Nguyen continued to show his strong consistency with wins over BK Jones, Jimmy Thompson, and Rafael Cunha to make it to the semi-s again. Like a human wall, he made Escotto hit a multitude of shots to stay in 4-3 lead, but eventually he pulled away for the 8-4 win.
"Playing James is like playing a good hitting partner", laughed Escotto. Nguyen has cashed in all the FTT events and moves into the #2 spot into the rankings.
A special guest star making an appearance was former ATP Top 35 in the world Jaime Oncins of Brazil, now the head of the Montverde Tennis Academy. He and his students came to play with his student Rafael Cunha finishing 5th into the money. His son Lucas had a tough draw with Medina in his first match. Jaime himself was not able to play after the rain delay forced his schedule to change.
Top to bottom clockwise: Rafael Cunha of Brazil has the best photo of the event as he moves to FTT #9 ranking. Miotto & Levitan made a perfect doubles pairing. Tayjhon McGee serves into the #7 FTT spot. Jim Thompson moves into FTT #20 singles and #12 Doubles. John Jackson joins Sykes as FTT #3 Doubles and #15 in Singles.
In the singles finals, everyone was buzzing on the pending match between two of the finest players in Florida in Escotto and Medina. Both players had played Davis Cup for their respective countries. Even Goffi decided to chair the match to spice it up even more. Unfortunately, Escotto had injured his hand in one of the day's matches but he decided to push through and play. But he would need to be at 100% to play Medina who was on his game once more and controlled the points. The two set finals saw Medina win 6-0, and then lead 5-1 before Escotto retired.
"I was hurt before the finals, but I didn't want to disappoint the other fans and players who wanted to watch, so I tried my best," said Escotto. Giancarlo still maintains his #1 ranking while Medina leaps into #3 on the Florida Tennis Tour Rankings.
In the Doubles, it was newly formed team of Daniel Levitan and Luiz Miotto of Brazil that made waves in the tournament. Miotto was a former ATP pro coming out to get some good play in. They got a forfeit, and then a win over Pinel/Grether, and then Mallon/McGee from the Boys Latin Tennis in Maryland to reach the finals. On the other side of the chart, the regular duo of Jason Sykes & John Jackson went to the finals with wins over Hurley/Thomas, Blum/Hopkins, and then Turner/Becker in the semi-finals dropping only 4 games total in 3 matches. In the finals it was all Levitan/Miotto as they dominated 8-1 for the win. Ironically, this was the team that almost never happened as Miotto was not registered in the doubles and Levitan needed a partner. Luiz who declined at first to play when asked and changed his mind once his friend Escotto gave him the "nod". A decision that made history in the end as well as some dollars. Miotto and Levitan now stand at #1 in the FTT Doubles Rankings as this event was a 50% bonus points tournament. Sykes & Jackson move into #3.
International field: Omar Ammouni -Lebanon. Jamol Umarov -Uzbekistan. Lucas Oncins-Brazil. James Nguyen-Vietnam.
Benjamin Earle won the FTT Consolation Tournament earning the equivalent of 5th place in the tournament in points and defeated Miotto along the way and Gabriel Andrew of Venezuela in the finals 7-5. Clark/Meister of the Boys Latin Tennis in Maryland won the FTT Doubles Consolation Tournament defeating Turner/Becker in the finals
McGee & Mallon finished a strong 3rd in the cash while their fellow Boys Latin Tennis mates Clark/Meister took down the Consolations. Coach McGee and his boys. JAX power couple Dennis Turner & Camie Becker got 3rd and their first Dragon Promotions FTT check. James Nguyen moves into #2 FTT rankings and shares his winnings with his son.
Next event: Miami April 23-24th at the Goodlet Tennis Center
Next Next event: Deland at Kurt Collis Tennis Academy May 14th.
Marcus Vu had the most Jordanistic serve of them all!