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High-profile sports tournament returns to area club

The FineMark Women’s Pro Tennis Championship was a major hit for the Bonita Bay Club in 2019, and now it's back for another round.


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  • | 6:00 a.m. March 20, 2020
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Courtesy. Lauren Davis, who reached the second and third rounds, respectively, at the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon, won the inaugural FineMark Women’s Pro Tennis Championship at Bonita Bay Club in May 2019.
Courtesy. Lauren Davis, who reached the second and third rounds, respectively, at the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon, won the inaugural FineMark Women’s Pro Tennis Championship at Bonita Bay Club in May 2019.
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Advantage to Southwest Florida tennis club executive Paula Scheb when it comes to acing a big challenge: winning the rights to host a women’s pro tennis championship event.

The FineMark Women’s Pro Tennis Championship, the only $100,000 Women’s U.S. Tennis Association Pro Circuit Tournament in Florida, is scheduled to return to the Bonita Bay Club in May, for the second year. The event — barring any coronavirus-connected cancellation — is scheduled for May 11-17. Rising star Lauren Davis, who reached the second and third rounds, respectively, at the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon, won the inaugural edition at Bonita Bay Club in May 2019.

While it was an on-court triumph for Davis, the event was also a smashing success for Scheb, a USPTA Master Professional and director of sports at Bonita Bay Club. “It went beyond our wildest expectations,” Scheb tells Coffee Talk. “For us it was a dream come true.”

The event is scheduled to be the third major tennis event of the season at the club following the FineMark FGCU Collegiate Open and the 39th annual Naples-Fort Myers Challenge, both held in November. It also represents an important lesson for an entrepreneur or executive: Never give up.

Scheb, a Sarasota area native and longtime tennis player, advocate, coach and club executive, was relentless in her pursuit of winning a USTA event for the Bonita Bay Club, in Bonita Springs. When the organization was based in Lake Placid, N.Y., Scheb says she used every contact in her network to get an in — with nothing to show for it. “I knocked on so many doors it was insane,” she says. “I must have had 30 different email conversations” with tennis officials.

Soon after the USTA moved to Lake Nona, outside Orlando, in 2016, something finally clicked, Scheb says. The organization awarded the club the event, and members have been looking forward to the 2020 version almost as soon as the 2019 one ended. Scheb says: “Our members are still talking about it.”

 

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