October 7th, 2015

Tampa Tennis Blog: Local Icon Passes; Frenchy’s Registration; More

Courtside Adult Tennis News

Tennis, Sports Icon Sarmiento Passes

Al SarmientoThe tennis community recently lost an icon with the passing of Alberto “Al” Sarmiento in late August at the age of 87.

Mr. Sarmiento was a man of many talents and excelled in any sport he chose, including squash, jai alai, frontennis, racquetball and tennis. He won numerous national medals for his homeland Cuba. In the early 1950s, Mr. Sarmiento left the turmoil in Cuba and came to Tampa where he dominated professional jai alai from 1953-1961. He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in both jai alai and frontennis (a combination of jai alai and tennis on a reduced court and smaller ball).

Mr. Sarmiento was hired away from jai alai to manage the Meadowlawn Bowling Lanes in St. Petersburg. After 13 years there, Mr. Sarmiento was called to oversee the building of the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club in 1973. From then on, tennis was “the” sport!

Countless achievements followed, just as they had in his other sports. But it wasn’t just about teaching tennis or overseeing court construction — it was about the people. Mr. Sarmiento was extremely passionate about helping anyone and everyone who wanted to learn tennis. He played tennis several times a week, even after selling his mobile home in Largo and moving to Daytona Beach. There, at 85, he hooked up with a couple of leagues in the Volusia County area.

Not until December 2014 did his health force him to stop playing tennis — he passed away nine months later. For those who knew Mr. Sarmiento, his motto “practice doesn’t make perfect — only perfect practice makes perfect” extended beyond tennis and into life itself.

Mr. Sarmiento lived his motto every day.

Challympics at Seminole Lake Racquet Club

Splish Splash!

Erick Chall, tennis director at Seminole Lake Country Club, and his staff held their second annual “Challympics” to close out their summer camp that included over 100 kids.

Challympics included team competitions from ball bobbing in the pool to slip ‘n slid kickball and crazy tennis — looks like fun!

Signups Open for Frenchy’s 23rd Annual Gumbo Tennis Classic

Frenchy's 23rd

Registration for Pinellas County’s largest charity doubles tournament is open.

Frenchy’s 23rd Gumbo Tennis Classic, staged at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex in Clearwater since its inception, includes men’s, women’s and mixed doubles in NTRP levels 3.0 to 5.0-and-above on Nov. 6-8.

In addition to the friendly, fierce competition as teams battle for the coveted trophy tiles, players receive a t-shirt, player gift bag, Frenchy’s famous Seafood Gumbo and entry to the Nov. 5 draw party.

Non-players may not only enjoy the tennis action, but participate in the silent auction. Proceeds from Frenchy’s Gumbo Tennis Classic benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

USTA members can register here, and non-USTA members here. For other questions, contact DawnK@bbbstampabay.org.