■ BY JEN FIERS
The 2018 Pro Tennis Exhibition Series will be held each Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Boca Grande Club from January 31st through March 14th. The first of the exhibitions will be the first Men’s Semifinal match on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. among Boca Bay Pass Club’s Director of Tennis H Wetzel, the Gasparilla Inn’s Assistant Pro Jamie Thormann, local league player Luke Andreae, and Jacaranda West Golf & Country Club’s Director of Tennis Adam Zastempowski.
Series favorite and former Champion, H Wetzel, will be returning to the Series this year after a three-way tie for second place last season. Wetzel has been the Director of Tennis at the Boca Bay Pass Club since 2003 and is the Director of Tennis in the summers at Elk River Club in Banner Elk, North Carolina. As one of the top collegiate players in the nation, Wetzel was voted MVP all four years in collegiate competition and played professionally for several years before embarking on his professional teaching career. You will see H taking photographs of the players during the exhibitions.
Back to the Series after a several-year hiatus as a realtor on Long Island, Jamie Thormann is representing the Inn this year. Jamie is from Little Cranberry Island in Maine where his father is a lobsterman. He played for Colby-Sawyer in New Hampshire and is in his third season of working with Jinx and Mark at the Gasparilla Inn.
Luke Andreae grew up in Punta Gorda and trained at the Nick Bollettierri Tennis Academy in Bradenton at the same time that the Boca Grande Club’s Jen Fiers and Karin Miller trained as juniors. He played for George Washington University and was #1 in Men’s 25 & Over Singles rankings and #2 in Men’s Open Singles rankings for the USTA Missouri Valley Division. Luke has two daughters aged 11 and 13, one of whom will be returning to his old training grounds at NBTA. Although, he says, both of his daughters like tennis, they don’t like to watch him play because he is too competitive and no fun on the court. He takes that competitive spirit to his love of the Tampa Bay Lightning as well. Luke won two raffle items in last night’s Tennis Ball, and is trying to win the Series this year after coming in third place in last year’s Series.
Adam Zastempowski graduated from Penn State University and has been Director of Tennis at Jacaranda West Country Club for over 20 years. In 2012, he held the #2 spot in USPTA National 40 & Over Singles rankings. His daughter graduated from UF last spring with 3.9 GPA. He and his wife, Kim, who is loves playing in the 4.0 leagues, have been married for over 25 years. He is a master on the Etch-a-Sketch as he can replicate a Thomas Kinkade painting to perfection. This will be Adam’s 18th year playing the Boca Grande Club’s Pro Exhibition Series.
A $5 donation is requested of all spectators and the exhibitions are open to the public. All proceeds benefit the Suncoast Humane Society. Please visit bocagrandeclub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.