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Estero’s Fred Drilling one for the ages

By Tom Rife, Daily News Correspondent

It has often been said that tennis is a game for all ages. It’s also a game for the ageless, and if you can’t grasp such a concept, all you need to do is check in with Estero tennis professional Fred Drilling.

The 73-year-old has become a fixture on the senior tennis scene, even at an international level, having competed in events around the world.

Drilling, who was the startup head women’s tennis coach when Florida Gulf Coast University instituted its intercollegiate program, was only a little bit closer to home for his most recent conquest.

It was in Irvine, California, that he played in the USTA 70 Hardcourt singles. What made the tournament noteworthy — and rewarding — for Drilling was that in the Cali event, he was able to reunite with an opponent he’s been battling for the last six decades!

His name is Jimmy Parker, who was the No. 1 seed. Drilling was the No. 5 seed. Yet when the two buddies collided in the quarterfinals, Drilling prevailed 7-6, 6-4.

Drilling went on to defeat the third-seeded Michael Beautyman of Lake Worth 6-4, 1-0. In the finals, Drilling bowed to Peru native Felix Ponte 6-2, 6-4. Ponte now resides in Apache Junction, Arizona.

Drilling explains that this is Ponte’s first year in the 70 singles — and Drilling’s last. That five-year age difference generally does influence the older player’s ability to compete with the younger opponent.

“Parker and I first played each other when we were 14 in the Western’s in Louisville,” Drilling recalled. “We’ve been playing either with each other in doubles, or against each other in singles, for the last 60 years.”

Parker now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Drilling’s other recent standout showings include the Atlanta Sr. Invitational Championships, a Super Category II national event. Seeded third, he made it to the finals where he bowed to top-seeded Richard Johnson 6-2, 6-2 in the men’s 70 singles draw. In the semis, Drilling had upended the second-seeded Hugh Thomson 6-4, 6-4.

Holiday tourney July 2: The Naples Beach Hotel Tennis Center will be the venue for the Independence Day Round-Robin Mixed Doubles tournament Saturday, July 2. Play will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and will be followed by a lunch buffet. The entry fee for members is $15 and for non-members, the cost is $25. For more, contact Sue Magno at 239-435-4351.

‘Drop Shot’ tourney looms for juniors: The Arthur L. Allen Tennis Center at Cambier Park in downtown Naples will host this year’s Drop Shot Junior Classic L6 event July 2-4. This USTA-sanctioned tournament will spotlight singles action with consolation draws for first-match losers.

The divisions will be boys and girls 12 through 18. There also will be a boys and girls 10 division using the Green Dot tennis ball.

The entry deadline is Monday, June 27. Call the tennis shop at 213-3060.

Summer programs at Vanderbilt: The Vanderbilt Country Club tennis complex has some new summer activities: They include a new concept of doubles strokes and strategies designed to improve movement and strategy on the tennis court. There are Men’s High Performance Doubles clinics Wednesdays at 9 a.m., Ladies on Thursdays and Saturdays at 9, Open round-robins for men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:30, ladies round-robins Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30; contact the tennis office at 239-348-1725 or email

Cambier activities expanded: The staff at the Arthur L. Allen Tennis Center is offering a two-day doubles program for 3.5-and-above players. This training will focus on offensive and defensive formations, shot selections, strategies, along with taking the net to end the point.

Teaching pro Don Turner says this clinic is for competitive players and should not be thought of as club doubles. Also at Cambier, “High Performance” clinics are scheduled for Thursdays 8 to 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The stroke of the week is on Tuesdays from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Such times go into effect Monday, May 30. The night “High Performance” clinics are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

For more information or to sign up, call 239-213-3060, or email

Curly Davis begins summer activities: Pro Curly Davis’ summer schedule at the Country Club of Naples began last Thursday with the “Stroke of the Week Thursday Edition.” The sessions run Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m. and no sign-up is required. Players may simply drop in. The cost is $10 per person.

For other summer tennis activities at the facility, contact Davis at 239-450-7147.

Summer memberships offered again: The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club’s Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center is into the summer routine. Special summer tennis memberships run now through Sept. 30. The cost is $250.

The summer membership includes unlimited play, as well discounts on such things as lessons, round-robins and pro shop merchandise.

Also, weekly mixed doubles round-robins are on Fridays and run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Levels are 3.0 and 3.5. For more, call 239-435-4351.

Quail Creek summer round robins: 3.5 Women Mondays and Thursdays at 9 a.m.; 4.0 Women Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m.; 3.0 Women — Mondays and Fridays at 9:30; Men (all levels) — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m.; Mixed (all levels) — Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.; Call 239-597-9725 or email

Summer events planned for juniors: The Estero Country Club at The Vines has its junior summer program all set up. The camp for ages 6-16 is for all skill levels is in progress now through Aug. 4.

For the daily schedule and costs, call 239-267-7001.

Seacrest Summer Tennis Camp: Sessions for those entering grades 4-7 and grades 7-12; three sessions scheduled; Call Coach Tyler Daugherty at 714-812-0071.

■ Other activities: A rundown of other activities and events follows:

■ Cardio tennis offered: Cardio Tennis classes Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. at Cambier Park; $15 for members and $20 for non-members; Call 213-3060.

■ Round-robin Mixed doubles: Tuesdays 8 a.m. at Golden Gate Community Park on Santa Barbara Blvd.; Call 239-300-7718.

■ Kamen clinics: Naples High boys tennis coach Tony Kamen’s clinics from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; geared toward middle school and high school students and include conditioning, drills, strategy, and match play. Call 272-9223.

■ Junior Development Tennis: Sessions held at Arthur Allen Tennis Center in downtown Naples at Cambier Park. Classes run Monday through Thursday. Pee-Wees 3:15-4 p.m. for ages 4-6; Futures 4-5 p.m. for ages 6-8; Tournament 4-5:30 p.m. for ages 7-16; Call 213-3060.

■ Hammock Bay Tennis Programs: Offering private lessons and clinics, Live Ball Drill Session on Tuesdays, Morning Tennis Drill and Round Robin on Wednesdays and “Just for Starters” Clinics on Thursdays. Call 465-2922.

■ Junior/high school lessons: Given by Ron St. John, USPTA 1 Pro; all levels but also those interested in improving to play at the high school level; Call 289-1963.

■ Consistent Tennis Wins Academy: Private and group lessons, cardio tennis, team practice, racquet stringing, tennis fitness and weight loss training and hitting sessions for all levels. Call Tom Avery at 273-9204..

■ Quail Creek Junior Tennis: Wednesdays: Tiny Tots from 4-4:30 at $7; Beginners from 4:30-5 at $7; Thursdays: Intermediate and Advanced from 4:30-5:30 at $15; Saturdays: Intermediate and Advanced from 10:30-11:30 at $15 ($30 if only one participant). Clinic, rallyball fitness, and match play to be included Call 597-9725.

■ Pelican Bay Community Park events: Most levels of round-robins for men and women available each week; Adult and junior clinics held daily; call 598-3025.

■ Quail West Tennis programs: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Events include 3.0-3.5 ladies round-robin from 9 to 11 and 3.5-4.0 men’s round-robin from 9 to 11; 3.5-4.0 ladies doubles clinics on Wednesdays from 9 to 11; Also: Wednesday clinics for men and women from 9 to 10:30 a.m.; Also: “3 students and the Pro” on Mondays; Call 592-1139.

■ Weekly mixed doubles round-robin: Fridays at Pelican Bay Community Park; Call 598-3025.

■ Men’s, women’s and mixed round-robins: Each day of the week at Pelican Bay Community Park; Call 598-3025.

■ Adult clinics: For all levels at Pelican Bay Community Park; Call 598-3025.

■ Marco Island Racquet Center: Round-robins, league play, USTA competitive teams, Stroke of the Week clinics, beginners lessons, junior programs and racquetball challenges; Call 394-5454.

■ Ladies Day Round Robin, Men’s Day Round Robin, Saturday Mixed Round Robin: At Cambier Park, call 213-3060; Tuesdays at 11 a.m. women of all levels welcome to participate; Thursdays at 11 a.m. men of all levels welcome to participate; Saturday mornings are “Mixed Troubles” round-robin at 9:30.

■ Bridgewater Bay Tennis Club: Weekly activities include: Tuesdays beginner/intermediate clinic 5 p.m., Thursday mixed round robin 6 p.m.; Saturdays intermediate clinic 9:30 a.m.; Call 450-1000.

■ Saturday Mixed Doubles Round Robin: At Cambier Park Tennis Center at 10:45 a.m.; Call 213-3060.

■ Pelican Bay Community Park tennis facility: 764 Vanderbilt Beach Road; 8 lighted Har-Tru courts; Call 598-3025.

Those wishing to have events or activities included in the weekly local tennis roundup should email the information to by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Written By

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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