CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. – A World Champion beach tennis player and a father and son withstood near record temperatures, in the mid-90s, on the sands of Clearwater Beach Friday at the opening day of the 2018 Sunshine State Games (SSG) International Beach Games at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort.
The Fourth Annual Games are presented by St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports & Events, Sheraton Sand Key Resort, and the Florida Sports Foundation.
Mateo Godio, originally from Italy and now living in Miami, defeated Luis Miguel Reyes, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, 9-7 in the final match of the Men’s Open Singles Division. Godio, rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to tie the score at 5-5, only to fall behind again 7-6. He won the last three games of the match for the gold medal.
Godio, who won the Men’s Open Singles Championships at the IFBT World Championships in June in Barcelona, Spain, fought off painful blisters on his feet while battling five opponents over the course of the day.
“I played in a tournament last weekend in Delray Beach, and the blisters have not healed yet,” Godio said prior to the championship match.
Gabriel Martinez, a 14-year old player from the Beach Tennis Club of Delray Beach, won the gold medal in the Advanced and Intermediate Division, while his father, Juan Carlos, won the silver medal. Gabriel was undefeated in four pool play matches, including a 7-5 win against his father.
While Juan Carlos began playing beach tennis in his native Venezuela many years ago, Gabriel, a student at Omni Middle School, in Boca Raton, has only been playing for a year. When called to receive his gold medal, he was announced as “the future of Beach Tennis.”
While doubles will be played on Saturday, the father and son will not be paired together.
“We argue too much,” said Juan Carlos, with a laugh. “He’s 14 years old. I’m 53. He plays a lot quicker than I do.”
Nearly 100 beach tennis players will be competing on 12 courts at the Sheraton Sand Key through Sunday.
Drew Lovelace, of Plant City, and Brandon Gray, of Hudson, won the Beach Games Blind Draw Cornhole gold medal , defeating Tim Steiner, of Riverview, and Roni Sue Johnson, of Spring Hill, 21-20. The final points were scored well after the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, with the deciding round of throws coming at 8:48 p.m.
Lovelace and Johnson held a 17-13 lead but Steiner and Johnson came back to take a 20-19 lead before the gold medal winners scored the final two points.
Since it was a blind draw tournament and teams were not chosen until registration was complete, it was the first Lovelace and Gray had paired up together. They gold-medal winning was undefeated in five matches en route to the championship.
Five sports are in action on the sands of Clearwater Beach at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Saturday. Athletes will compete in Beach Tennis, Beach Ultimate, Beach Powerlifting, the Ultra Weight Pentathlon and Cornhole beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Schedule for Saturday, September 29
8:00 a.m. USATF Ultra Weight Championships and Florida U20 Super Weight Championships
9:00 a.m. Beach Powerlifting
9:00 a.m. Beach Ultimate
9:30 a.m. Beach Tennis (Men’s & Women’s Open & Advanced Doubles)
11:00 a.m. Cornhole
2:00 p.m. Beach Tennis (Men’s & Women’s Open & Advanced Doubles Main Draw)
Results from Friday, September 28
Beach Tennis Winners:
Men’s Open Singles Division
GOLD: Mateo Godio; SILVER: Luis Michel Reyes; BRONZE: Ignacio de Elia, Fran Larios
Men’s Advanced Singles Division
GOLD: Gabriel Martinez; SILVER: Juan Carlos Martinez; BRONZE: Rudy Walker
Women’s Advanced Singles Division
GOLD: Angela Bemquerer; SILVER: Cynthia Andrade
Men’s 40+ Doubles
Championship Match between Eric Block/Werner Ventner & Carlos Arniella/Jose Marin will be played Saturday morning.
Women’s 40+ Doubles
GOLD: Adriana Daza & Vanessa Hernandez; SILVER: Carmen Undiano & Rosalina Rodriguez; BRONZE: Cynthia Andrade & Luz Mirian Cisneros; Michelle Bos & Ivonne Bonchi Morales
Blind Draw Cornhole Tournament
GOLD: Drew Lovelace, Plant City/Brandon Gray, Hudson; SILVER: Tim Steiner, Riverview/Roni Sue Johnson, Spring Hill
About the Florida Sports Foundation
Florida’s Sports Industry creates over $57.4 billion in economic impact for the Sunshine State, provides over 580,000 jobs for its citizens, and attracts over 16 million out of state visitors each year. All of which deservingly make Florida the “Sports Capital of the World”. The Florida Sports Foundation, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation, serving as the Sports Industry Development Division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The mission of the Florida Sports Foundation is to:
- Assist Florida’s communities with securing, hosting and retaining Sporting events and sports related business that generate significant economic impact and Sports Tourism for the state of Florida through the Foundation’s grant programs, legislative initiatives and Industry Partner service, recognition and development.
- Provide the citizens of Florida with participation opportunities in the Sunshine State Games and Florida Senior Games events.
- Serve as Florida’s leading resource for Sport Tourism research and facts.
- Assist in the promotion of targeted leisure sports industries in Florida.
- Assist National and Florida State Governing Bodies to promote amateur sport development through the Sunshine State Games and hosting events in Florida.