Delray Beach Open Serves Up World-Class Tennis in Palm Beach CountyEnjoy current and past legends of professional tennis at the Delray Beach Open this week! This 10-day event that includes the ATP Champions Cup and the ATP World Tour. Exciting fun with two outstanding events in one locale and close to iconic Atlantic Avenue. 

Serve and Volley
An impressive list of ATP World Tour stars are currently scheduled play in the Delray Beach Open, and consists of a competitive, single-elimination singles and doubles event, featuring many of the top-ranked men’s professionals in the world. The 2017 event will have Milos Raonic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Delray Beach Open 2015 champ Ivo Karlovic, Mike & Bob Bryan, and Jack Sock.

This ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR event is the only ATP Champions Tour sanctioned event in the U.S. and boasts of players that have been ranked World No. 1, a Grand Slam singles finalist, or a singles player in a victorious Davis Cup team (plus one-two Wildcards). Starring this year are ranked players Fernando Gonzalez, Mardy Fish, James Blake, Vince Spakea, Sebastien Grosjean, and Mikael Pernfors.
 

More to Do

Throughout the week you can enjoy the hospitality of the Delray Beach Open and Delray Beach with special happenings to entertain fans of any age. Sign up for the Ultimate Experience Clinic and learn with Grand Slam legends. With Kidz Day, VIP Parties, multiple events for charity, Pro-Am matches and more. You are sure to ace a good time with all these event happenings here in Delray Beach.

Be an Insider
Trendy and thriving Delray Beach is not only a city with award-winning festivals and events - this beach town has nightlife, shopping, eclectic boutiques and galleries that keep you coming back time and time again. The charming brick-paved sidewalks and gorgeous tree-lined streets has your mind grounded and the exquisite shopping and amazing finds will keep that "Shopping Diva" heart thoroughly entertained. East Atlantic Avenue and adjacent Pineapple Grove is sure to appeal and divert. Come see why Delray Beach truly is - Florida's Village by the Sea and a "most fun small town".

Both casual tennis players and serious competitors will find their expectations exceeded at BallenIsles. Our tennis facilities, which already were ranked #1 in the country, have recently been dramatically expanded. The new 62,000-square-foot Sports Complex now features 22 tennis courts—20 Har-Tru® clay courts, including a stadium court that seats 500, and two hard courts—as well as a full-service tennis shop for all Tennis Member needs. 

Within the Sports Complex is the Tennis & Fitness Lounge, similar to a skybox. Here, Members have an indoor view of the stadium court during tournament play and a place to enjoy refreshments before and after their tennis matches. Our invitational tournaments regularly feature world-ranked players, and the list of those who’ve played our stadium court includes former and current Grand Slam champions. 

The BallenIsles tennis programs feature year-round exhibitions, club tournaments and clinics for all ages. Directed by the renowned BallenIsles coaching and support staff, both the avid player and the novice can count on an exceptional tennis experience, enhanced by club tournaments, special events and tennis-oriented social activities.

To learn more about BallenIsles and our world-class tennis program click here.

Venus Williams and Serena Williams Australian Open
Rick Stevens/Associated Press

Looking forward to watching Venus and Serena battle it out on the courts Saturday at the Australian Open just as they frequently do here while practicing at BallenIsles. Nearly 20 years after they first competed at the Australian Open, they're returned for round two. Below is the latest recap from The New York Times. 

MELBOURNE, Australia — The sibling rivalry, at least on the tennis tour, started right here at the Australian Open for the Williams sisters.

It was 1998, and older sister Venus beat younger sister Serena, 7-6 (4), 6-1, in a second-round match that — as intrusive as it felt to watch — surely drew more attention than any second-round match in history between a pair of Australian Open debutantes.

The fascination in their dynamic and their futures was there from the start in Melbourne Park, known then as Flinders Park when it had only one stadium with a retractable roof instead of three. A picture of Venus consoling Serena after the match was on the front page of The New York Times.

Though it would be tempting to label their Australian Open final on Saturday as a full-circle moment and to speculate that it might be their last meeting at this late a stage of a Grand Slam tournament, it seems best to resist the temptation.

The Williams sisters have taught us a lot about the limits of conventional tennis wisdom through the years. And so, even if 19 years have passed and Serena is now 35 and Venus 36, it is wise to avoid fencing them in again after they have run roughshod over so many other preconceptions.

“I watched Venus today celebrating after she won the semifinal like she was a 6-year-old girl, and it made you want to cry for joy just watching her,” said Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon champion. “Such a powerful image, and it makes you think about all those questions she was getting: ‘When are you retiring? Have you thought about retiring? How much longer?’

“You must let the champions decide when the right moment comes.”

The Williamses are both great champions, even if Serena is clearly the greater player with her 22 Grand Slam singles titles and her long run at No. 1, a spot she can reclaim from Angelique Kerber with a win Saturday.

Serena has been the most prolific Grand Slam winner after age 30 in tennis history, and she is back in rare form again after another extended break at the end of 2016. She disconnected completely from the game and physical training initially and had to push hard to get back in shape in November and December.

It worked. She has not dropped a set here despite a challenging draw, nor has she even been pushed to a tiebreaker. Newly engaged to the American technology entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian, who has watched her matches from the players box, and seemingly refreshed, Serena deserves to be the favorite to win her 23rd major singles title and break her tie with Steffi Graf for the highest total in the Open era.

In this tournament, Serena has beaten two former members of the top 10 — Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova — and one current member, the in-form No. 9 seed Johanna Konta. Venus’s draw has been soft by comparison, devoid of top 10 players — past or present — and including only one seeded player: No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

On Thursday, she had to scrap and come back to win, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3, against the powerful unseeded American CoCo Vandeweghe, while Serena cruised past the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 6-1.

Serena, who already holds a 16-11 edge over her sister, could be the fresher player, too, on Saturday. But the psychology remains complex and the fallout unpredictable, even after all these years.

“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing the best competitor in the game,” Venus said. “I don’t think I’m chump change either, you know. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I can get out there, and I compete.”

Serena has been the most prolific Grand Slam winner after age 30 in tennis history, and she is back in rare form again after another extended break at the end of 2016. She disconnected completely from the game and physical training initially and had to push hard to get back in shape in November and December.

It worked. She has not dropped a set here despite a challenging draw, nor has she even been pushed to a tiebreaker. Newly engaged to the American technology entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian, who has watched her matches from the players box, and seemingly refreshed, Serena deserves to be the favorite to win her 23rd major singles title and break her tie with Steffi Graf for the highest total in the Open era.

In this tournament, Serena has beaten two former members of the top 10 — Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova — and one current member, the in-form No. 9 seed Johanna Konta. Venus’s draw has been soft by comparison, devoid of top 10 players — past or present — and including only one seeded player: No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

On Thursday, she had to scrap and come back to win, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3, against the powerful unseeded American CoCo Vandeweghe, while Serena cruised past the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 6-1.

Serena, who already holds a 16-11 edge over her sister, could be the fresher player, too, on Saturday. But the psychology remains complex and the fallout unpredictable, even after all these years.

“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing the best competitor in the game,” Venus said. “I don’t think I’m chump change either, you know. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I can get out there, and I compete.”

 

Serena has been the most prolific Grand Slam winner after age 30 in tennis history, and she is back in rare form again after another extended break at the end of 2016. She disconnected completely from the game and physical training initially and had to push hard to get back in shape in November and December.

It worked. She has not dropped a set here despite a challenging draw, nor has she even been pushed to a tiebreaker. Newly engaged to the American technology entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian, who has watched her matches from the players box, and seemingly refreshed, Serena deserves to be the favorite to win her 23rd major singles title and break her tie with Steffi Graf for the highest total in the Open era.

In this tournament, Serena has beaten two former members of the top 10 — Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova — and one current member, the in-form No. 9 seed Johanna Konta. Venus’s draw has been soft by comparison, devoid of top 10 players — past or present — and including only one seeded player: No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

On Thursday, she had to scrap and come back to win, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3, against the powerful unseeded American CoCo Vandeweghe, while Serena cruised past the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 6-1.

Serena, who already holds a 16-11 edge over her sister, could be the fresher player, too, on Saturday. But the psychology remains complex and the fallout unpredictable, even after all these years.

“When I’m playing on the court with her, I think I’m playing the best competitor in the game,” Venus said. “I don’t think I’m chump change either, you know. I can compete against any odds. No matter what, I can get out there, and I compete.”

They have not played since the 2015 United States Open, when Serena won, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, in a quarterfinal in which Venus attacked, often successfully, from the start but had no answer in the end for Serena’s ultimate weapon: her first serve.

It was an intense match in which the big crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium seemed more reflective than fully engaged; one in which Serena’s celebration was understandably subdued with her sister across the net, even if their matches are no longer the awkward, constricted affairs of their early years.

Saturday’s final in Melbourne could be intriguing on multiple levels, in part because of the Australian public. Venus is viewed here, as elsewhere, as a sympathetic figure: the older sister who has handled the younger’s greater tennis success unselfishly and with dignity. And though both sisters have had to cope with major health problems and family tragedy, with the murder of their half sister Yetunde Price in 2003, Venus is the one whose tennis fortunes dipped more dramatically.

A seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and a former No. 1, she did not advance past the third round in any major event in singles from late 2011 to the end of the 2014 season.

She was a major star reduced to a minor role, largely because of an autoimmune disorder — Sjogren’s syndrome, diagnosed in 2011 — that sapped her strength and endurance. When Russian hackers breached the World Anti-Doping Agency’s databases last fall, it was revealed that Venus had needed 13 therapeutic-use exemptions for drugs in recent years.

The retirement questions to which Bartoli referred started during that period. But Venus’s ability to cope with her condition has improved, and after rejoining the top 10 in 2015, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year and then the final here.

“She never even thought of the word retire,” said David Witt, her coach and hitting partner of 10 years. “I just think when she got diagnosed, it was a step back, a shock. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with it and her body, how to eat, how to manage it.

“There are days she can’t work as hard as she wants to work. Some days it’s maybe not smart to do it because it will then hurt you for two or three more days. Where she is now in her career, she has to listen to her body, and I don’t think she really needs to go out and hit balls for two hours.”

It was an intense match in which the big crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium seemed more reflective than fully engaged; one in which Serena’s celebration was understandably subdued with her sister across the net, even if their matches are no longer the awkward, constricted affairs of their early years.

Saturday’s final in Melbourne could be intriguing on multiple levels, in part because of the Australian public. Venus is viewed here, as elsewhere, as a sympathetic figure: the older sister who has handled the younger’s greater tennis success unselfishly and with dignity. And though both sisters have had to cope with major health problems and family tragedy, with the murder of their half sister Yetunde Price in 2003, Venus is the one whose tennis fortunes dipped more dramatically.

A seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and a former No. 1, she did not advance past the third round in any major event in singles from late 2011 to the end of the 2014 season.

She was a major star reduced to a minor role, largely because of an autoimmune disorder — Sjogren’s syndrome, diagnosed in 2011 — that sapped her strength and endurance. When Russian hackers breached the World Anti-Doping Agency’s databases last fall, it was revealed that Venus had needed 13 therapeutic-use exemptions for drugs in recent years.

The retirement questions to which Bartoli referred started during that period. But Venus’s ability to cope with her condition has improved, and after rejoining the top 10 in 2015, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year and then the final here.

“She never even thought of the word retire,” said David Witt, her coach and hitting partner of 10 years. “I just think when she got diagnosed, it was a step back, a shock. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with it and her body, how to eat, how to manage it.

“There are days she can’t work as hard as she wants to work. Some days it’s maybe not smart to do it because it will then hurt you for two or three more days. Where she is now in her career, she has to listen to her body, and I don’t think she really needs to go out and hit balls for two hours.”

It was an intense match in which the big crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium seemed more reflective than fully engaged; one in which Serena’s celebration was understandably subdued with her sister across the net, even if their matches are no longer the awkward, constricted affairs of their early years.

Saturday’s final in Melbourne could be intriguing on multiple levels, in part because of the Australian public. Venus is viewed here, as elsewhere, as a sympathetic figure: the older sister who has handled the younger’s greater tennis success unselfishly and with dignity. And though both sisters have had to cope with major health problems and family tragedy, with the murder of their half sister Yetunde Price in 2003, Venus is the one whose tennis fortunes dipped more dramatically.

A seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and a former No. 1, she did not advance past the third round in any major event in singles from late 2011 to the end of the 2014 season.

She was a major star reduced to a minor role, largely because of an autoimmune disorder — Sjogren’s syndrome, diagnosed in 2011 — that sapped her strength and endurance. When Russian hackers breached the World Anti-Doping Agency’s databases last fall, it was revealed that Venus had needed 13 therapeutic-use exemptions for drugs in recent years.

The retirement questions to which Bartoli referred started during that period. But Venus’s ability to cope with her condition has improved, and after rejoining the top 10 in 2015, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year and then the final here.

“She never even thought of the word retire,” said David Witt, her coach and hitting partner of 10 years. “I just think when she got diagnosed, it was a step back, a shock. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with it and her body, how to eat, how to manage it.

“There are days she can’t work as hard as she wants to work. Some days it’s maybe not smart to do it because it will then hurt you for two or three more days. Where she is now in her career, she has to listen to her body, and I don’t think she really needs to go out and hit balls for two hours.”

Witt said there were no more two-a-day sessions in the off-season or in time off tour: just one session in the morning and then gym work, primarily sprints, core strengthening and flexibility.

“It took her years and years to realize that stretching is important and can keep you healthier,” he said. “The more flexible you are, you’re not going to strain or pull anything. I’ve been with her 10 years, and I think it took seven years to get her to stretch. She likes to do a lot of dancing, and that consists of a lot of stretching and being flexible, so I think that’s helped.”

Her dance skills were in evidence Thursday as she pirouetted after beating Vandeweghe, but what will linger longest in memory were her screams of delight at having conquered an inspired young opponent in a semifinal. It was a moment she described as “just joy.”

“You could really see the happiness on her face,” Serena said. “I’ve been there when she was down and out of it, and back and in it. I’ve been there for all those moments, so I just really was oh so happy.”

As visceral as her reaction on court was, she was nothing but considered in the interview room.

“I think why people love sport so much is because you see everything in a line,” Venus said. “In that moment, there is no do-over. There’s no retake. There is no voice-over. It’s triumph and disaster witnessed in real time.

“This is why people live and die for sport, because you can’t fake it. You can’t. It’s either you do it or you don’t. People relate to the champion. They also relate to the person who didn’t win, because we all have those moments in our life.”

This will be Venus’s first major singles final since she lost to Serena in straight sets in the 2009 Wimbledon final, and her first match against Serena in Melbourne since the 2003 final when Serena won her fourth Grand Slam title in a row, having defeated Venus in all four finals.

“It’s just amazing,” said Rennae Stubbs, the Australian star who first met the sisters before they joined the tour. “They came onto the scene at age 15 and 16 with the beads and the hair and the exuberance, and here they are: mature, remarkable young women at 35 and 36. No matter what anyone says to me, their story from start to finish is the greatest sports story ever.”

 

And if the Williamses have taught us anything along the way, it is that the story is not finished until they say it is.

View original article here

Golf Tip from Top Florida Pro So many people ask how to hit the golf ball farther. Let's start by saying that if you do not make solid/center contact, that should be your first focus. If you do however make solid contact with the ball and are looking for even more distance, note the following drill and you will begin to learn where speed comes from. 

Take an alignment rod and place it firmly under your left armpit. Get into your normal address position, and turn back as if you were making a backswing. Now turn through as fast as you can... you will notice there is hardly any speed with this motion. 

Now hold the rod in your hands, taking your normal grip and swing the rod back and whip it through using your hands and arms. Not only will you see the difference but you will hear it in the "swoosh" the rod makes as it swings through the air, generating much greater speed than you could with your body. 

The more relaxed you keep your hands and arms, the faster you can swing the rod. The same is true for your golf club. Tension destroys speed and it ruins good tempo. 

You can also do this drill with the Speed Sticks and other similar aids that are on the market. 

This golf tip come from the pros at BallenIsles. To learn more about golf at BallenIsles click here. 

Snow is on the ground in 49 of 50 states

After a frigid weekend jam-packed with falling snow all over the country, USA TODAY has given permission for us Floridians to start gloating. A map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was shared showing snow cover touching each state except Florida. There is even snow on the volcano peaks in Hawaii. 

 If you’re currently living in Massachusetts, anywhere in the Northeast or even near Mount Airy, North Carolina, it’s likely you received a foot or more in snow fall. And if you’ve been sitting on the fence, considering retirement or a second home in sunny Florida, this could be just the storm to tip the scale for you. We’ve been enjoying wonderful 60 - 70 degree days in Palm Beach Gardens and we know you’d rather be shoveling sand than snow this January. 

Take a minute for yourself and check out the available homes at BallenIsles, there is surely something that fits your needs. 

 

 

View original article here. 

BallenIsles Charity Foundation bird
The BallenIsles Wildlife Foundation donated two Purple Martin birdhouses, one of which is by the practice area on the East golf course and the other that will be by the fitness trail. (Sarah Peters/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH GARDENS — From scooping wayward turtles out of swimming pools to neutering feral cats to mounting bird houses for Purple Martins, a dedicated group of animal-loving volunteers at BallenIsles does it all.

The BallenIsles Wildlife Foundation has humble roots. Resident Mona Roberts trapped, neutered, vaccinated and released feral cats for close to two decades before she came to a few neighbors for help a few years ago, foundation President Marianne Guerra said.

They coalesced into a nonprofit and expanded their efforts. Since the beginning of last year, they’ve trapped, neutered, vaccinated and released more than a dozen feral cats. Releasing them back into the community helps control the population, because cats are territorial, Guerra said. More cats won’t move in where one has already staked a claim.

Roberts said she’s thankful to see the benefits of the time and money she spent trapping, neutering and releasing the cats.

“I’m really happy that this group has now formed and they are carrying what I started 20 years ago,” Roberts said.

Organizations with similar missions exist in the Ibis community in West Palm Beach and Admirals Cove in Jupiter.

A large part of the foundation’s mission is to educate people about the environment so they enjoy and maintain it, Vice President Irwin Edenzon said.

“One of the things about living in South Florida is that it’s a wildlife-rich environment,” he said.

Residents will soon find laminated guides to Florida birds in the golf and tennis shops, Guerra said. BallenIsles’ three courses golf courses just recently became Audubon-certified.

One birdhouse for Purple Martins — large, broad-chested swallows that migrate between the United States and South America — has already been installed on the practice area of the East golf course.

A second house designed for the species will be installed near the gazebo and fitness trail before the birds return to South Florida in mid-January, Edenzon said.

Purple Martins breed here, then head back to South America in the fall.

The birds primarily nest in houses provided by humans and will allow people to observe them up close, Guerra said. The 12-compartment “bird condominiums” places on high poles must be in open areas close to water sources.

The foundation is inclusive of plant-lovers, too. A magazine published several times a year that includes a “Growing Green” section focused on plants native to Florida.

Volunteers have rescued baby opossums, ducks, raccoons and injured turtles and taken them to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, which held a seminar for residents.

Whatever critters come their way, they care for them with compassion.

See original story here.