Best. Weekend. Ever?

convertibleWhere do we start?

The super successful social Friday night? The 6.5 team rolling to another victory? The 7.5 men’s combo beating unbeaten and first-place Westchase on Saturday? The 7.0 mixed team beating unbeaten and first-place Brandon on Sunday?

It’s sooooo hard!

But at the end of the day, we are probably most excited that Nikki Spirakis is still with us on this earth, after a tragic, near-fatal car accident at the club Friday prior to the social.

Mary Dunlap’s 2.5 championship sign was not as lucky.

MarysignDriving her husband’s BMW, Nikki pulled into a spot (It should be noted, it wasn’t even her spot! Booooooo!) and rolled up to the point where many people would normally stop their cars — the curb.

IMG_1850But Nikki marches to the beat of her own drummer. Some might tap the brake. She hit the gas.

In what was a terrifying 3 seconds in which her life flashed before her eyes, Nikki jumped the curb, smashed into Mary’s sign, and then for good measure backed the car up to make sure the bumper came off, causing at least $34,000 in damage due to BMW’s exorbitant repair costs.

The sign, sadly, will never be the same. Despite the long hours of hard work Dunlap put into her 2.5 title, all the blood, sweat and tears, she is now left with only the battered remnants of what was once a glorious monument to her tennis greatness.


Nikki, thankfully, was injury-free. In her defense, this is a very common mistake many drivers make. In 2015 alone, there were 435 reported cases of drivers inadvertently hitting the gas and driving their vehicles into a stationary building or object. This week alone, according to a special investigation by the Green Machine Blog, seven other drivers also crashed their cars into things like a tree, a bank, a McDonald’s drive-through, a fire hydrant and a garage. Here’s a complete list, compliments of the Tampa Police Department, of everyone who hit the gas when they meant to hit the brakes this week:


And then everyone played tennis.

Here’s Daniela and her husband Troy. The Quasts are relatively new to the club. We like them.

Well, we like Daniela, anyway. (Welcome to the blog, Troy!)


Thanks to everyone for playing. Let’s do it again!


The 6.5 men’s combo team — the original Green Machine and founders of the Green Machine Tennis Club — improved to 3-0 with a 3-0 win over the Tampa Palms Fusion.

This year’s squad, however, is so strong that it started a pair of 3.0s — Ron Reiter and Jimmy Dice — at line 1 against a 6.5 combo…and won 6-0, 6-1.

FUN FACT: Dice and Reiter actually played against each other at sectionals in January, when Reiter played for Countryside. Dice was victorious.

ClaytonAt line 2, John Slatniske and Georges Kaufman posted a 6-0, 7-5 win, and line 3 was a forfeit. But new member Clayton Smith made his playing debut in a practice match, winning the first four games of his tennis career.

Smith will make his USTA debut when the Green Machine will host Tampa Palms Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

FUN FACT: Smith knows how to make delicious breakfast foods utilizing mascarpone cheese.

Also Saturday, the 7.5 men’s combo team, with a number of Green Machine Tennis Club members playing for it, delivered a decisive 3-0 victory over Westchase, and now has sole possession of first place.

FUN FACT: Westchase was one of only two teams to beat the 7.5 team last year .

At line 1, Erik Hajek and 4.0 ace Richard Helme won 6-3, 6-0; while at line 2 Greg Morrissey and Larry Palombo won the first 11 games before falling just short of a double bagel in a 6-0, 6-1 win.


Hajek continues to roll.

At line 3, John Cotey and Mike Bitting played together for the first time since Oct. 4, 2004, when after a particularly good night of practice they were put together for Cotey’s first 7.5 match ever. They promptly went out and lost at Avila 6-3, 6-4. That was the last time Cotey was put in the lineup all season, and the loss has haunted the duo for almost two years. Saturday, they rolled 6-2 in the first set and then fell behind 5-3 in the second before coming back for a 7-5 win.

FUN FACT: Since that 2014 loss in his first 7.5 match, Cotey has won all nine of his 7.5 matches, the last seven in straight sets.

The match of the weekend — the Green Machine 7.0 mixed squad taking on BSAC in a match they absolutely had to win.

The 7.0 squad, coming off a sectional appearance in May in the over-40 division, suffered a shocking loss to West Meadows to open the season and their backs were against the wall against undefeated BSAC, which was 4-0 heading into Sunday’s showdown.

But the Green Machine was up to the challenge, sweeping all three lines. Had it lost, the Green Machine would have had to win out pretty much by 3-0 scores, hope someone else knocked off Brandon and then beaten Brandon in the rematch.

FUN FACT: BSAC and Hunter’s Green were 4-4 against each other the past four mixed seasons, and every match was a 2-1 score until Sunday, the first 3-0 win by either squad since at least 2013.

At line 1, Tom Layton and Cherie Smith stumbled out of the gate but thanks to some great play by Smith, everything settled down in a 7-5, 6-3 victory.

FUN FACT: Cherie is 22-0 in USTA action over the past two years. She is 11-0 in women’s doubles, 7-0 in mixed doubles and 4-0 in singles, and 20 of her 22 wins are in straight sets. GET. OUT. OF. HERE!!!!! 

NiniAt line 2, Cotey and Nini Torres, trying to put the pieces of their doubles lives together after sectionals left both in long therapy sesssions, came out and laid an egg in the first set, losing 6-3. Then they decided they were tired of embarassing each other, and dug in to even the match with a 6-4 second set win, forcing a third-set tiebreaker.

In it, Cotey-Torres fell behind 7-3, and then 9-6, and then pulled it out 11-9.

FUN FACT: Cotey and Torres are 6-1 in regular season 7.0 mixed, their only loss coming June 21, 2015 when they lost 7-5, 7-6 to BSAC.


The 6.5 women’s combo return to action, traveling to Carrollwood on Saturday. The Ladies are 3-0, and Carrolwood is 0-4. A win moves the Ladies, who have already beaten the first- and second-place teams, one huge step to a second straight sectional berth with only two matches remaining after Carrollwood.

The 6.5 men’s combo look to clinch a sectional berth Saturday when it hosts Tampa Palms.

The 7.5 men’s combo team has a bye.

The 7.0 mixed team hosts Harbour Island on Sunday.




About johncotey

John was a sportswriter and columnist for the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Times for 25 years, before being pushed from the Titantic, and hopes all of you non-subscribers are happy reading your free news on the internets while his journalism brethren suffer. Not that he's not bitter or anything. His real true joys, however, are his wife, kids and tennis, though not necessarily in that order. Unless his wife is reading this. Then DEFINITELY in that order.
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5 Responses to Best. Weekend. Ever?

  1. Troy Quast says:

    Where do I begin?
    I guess I’ll just focus on 2 things:
    1. Name butchery: it’s Quast & Daniela
    2. While grasping at straws for Daniela’s celebrity look-a-like, you failed to note the one for me that I hear at least once a day:


  2. Andy Ritter says:

    Great blog post John – congrats to all the teams for their success. I had no idea that Nikki had a senior moment and hit the gas instead of the brake. Pleased to see she was alright Friday night. I must say that the Friday night social that was organized by (I think) Nikki and Phong was great! It was great to play against/and with so many people. It was also great to see how inclusive the group is – encouraging new players to join in and compete. Thanks! I think there is something special going on at Hunters Green with its tennis teams, and I am pleased to be a part of it.


  3. Nikki says:

    Thanks Andy! The only one generally concerned! John walked up as he was pulling out his camera! And I can’t take any credit for planning. I found one person to round out the numbers – Phuong gets all the credit for planning! It was a lot of fun and we should do it again soon, minus the fender bender. Sorry Mary!!


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