Defending champion Steve Ethier will face last year's runner-up, Jared Kalpin, in the Professional Tennis Exhibition Series final at the Boca Grande Club at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 14.
Ethier, assistant at the Boca Bay Pass Club, limped through the quarterfinals and followed that win with an impressive semifinal Feb. 29.
Kalpin, head pro at the Landings Country Club in Fort Myers, flashed touch and quickness around the net in advancing in teaming with Ethier on a 6-0 win over Tucker Lang, Boca Grande Club, and Nate Griffin, director of tennis at the Strand Golf and Country Club in Bradenton.
Defending champion Steve Ethier
Ethier served big, losing only three points in six service games.
"That's probably the best I've served in this event so far," Ethier said. "I was very determined to not miss any shots. I was much more focused today, much more confident, and I stayed relaxed even when they fired balls at me."
Under the series format, four teaching pros play three sets of doubles, rotating partners each set. The top two players in games won advance to the next round.
Kalpin needed come-from-behind heroics to advance to the semis but the deciding set was over quickly.
"It was great being paired with Steve in the first set," Kalpin said. "It was nice not having to claw my way back into the matches like I have had to do in the past here."
In the opening match, Kalpin suffered a 6-1 drubbing in the first set, only to come back with a thrilling 6-1 third set and a tiebreaker win to make it to the first semi.
The second semifinal will be played Wednesday after the Gazette goes to press. Four players are still in the running to fill the final two spots opposite Ethier and Kalpin in the championship round.
Two series rookies, David Siddons, director of tennis at the Plantation Country Club in Venice, and Abdul Idi, Griffin's assistant at the Strand, will take on four-time series champion Scott Harrington, a pro at the Landings in Fort Myers, and Joe Venezia, director of tennis at the Landings Racket Club in Sarasota.
Admission is an optional $5 donation, which goes to Suncoast Humane Society. Following the finals, patrons can stay for The After Party with brats, burgers and a cash beer and wine bar. The $15 tickets are available at the Boca Grande Club.
The tournament is sponsored by Gulf to Bay/Sotheby's International Realty and the Boca Grande Club. Total prize money is $4,500, with $1,000 going to the champion.
For more information, call the Boca Grande Club pro shop at 964-2211.