Around Town: Roddick’s fiery determination evident early to his tennis coach

Coach Howard Schnellenberger was honored on his 80th birthday by hundreds of supporters, including football legend Joe Namath.

Schnellenberger and his wife, Beverlee, share a kiss to celebrate the end of the entertainment. Tim Stepien and Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Thom Smith

     Drool over this list: Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova. All No. 1 players. All guided in their formative years by Rick Macci.
    Capriati’s ascent was meteoric, her fall possibly even more dramatic. The Williams sisters continue to win, as does Sharapova.
    Roddick now 31, retired from big-time tennis 18 months ago, after barely a decade as a pro, but it seems like only yesterday the gangly kid from Nebraska was a student at Boca Prep, winning the U.S. Open and dating a budding Hollywood star, Mandy Moore.
    At 21, he was ranked No. 1 in world, but when he had to wear a necktie during a promotional stop at Saks at Town Center, he didn’t know a Windsor from a four-in-hand. But Macci, who now runs his academy at Boca Lago, still remembers the kid.
    In Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself and Others, written with former Miami Herald tennis writer Jim Martz, Macci devotes one chapter to Roddick, whose competitive nature was evident at an early age. On Sunday afternoons academy residents — some of whom were already on the tour and newbies like 10-year-old Roddick — played touch football. That is, most of them played “touch,” as Macci explained:
    “The ball was kicked off and we ran down there to get the guy and here’s Andy and guys who are seeded players … some of best tennis players in the country … And he goes down there and tackles the guy. He doesn’t pull the flag, he tackles the guy. Gets him on the ground and then pulls his flag and he’s got a pretty good bloody nose from doing this. And he looked up at me and he goes, ‘I got the flag!’
    “I said, ‘Listen, we’re not playing tackle. You’ve got to pull the flag out.’ I knew then and there …  he was just a fiery competitor that had a lot of potential.”


                             ***        
    The new bridge is open and the mood on Ocean Avenue on both sides of the Intracoastal is upbeat. For most Lantana and Manalapan merchants who held on for 18 months while the bridge was replaced, the struggle was worthwhile.  
    Of course, some things remain mysterious. Tapas 210 has never reopened, though the tables are set as if dinner is about to be served. Nor has anything happened across the street at the site formerly occupied by Suite 225.
    But at Pizzeria Oceano, a block east of Federal, Dak Kerprich, who never stopped rolling out his gourmet pies, pastas and salads, “couldn’t be busier,” until he runs out of fresh ingredients.
    The constantly changing menu might offer kielbasa pizza with smoked cheddar, mozzarella, mustard greens and onion or a spicy shrimp salad with green papaya, basil, pole beans, shallots, peanuts and garum. When they’re gone, he closes for the evening.
    “I wish I had more space, but for now this is fine. My customers stayed loyal and we made it through.”
    Closer to the bridge, the Old Key Lime House is having an impact as traffic regularly backs up and valet parkers struggle to keep pace. Apparently pushing the right buttons, owner Ryan Cordero reported his best January ever. Best way to get in without a wait: Go by boat.

***
    That big hotel on the ocean with the new name now has a new sign: the old Ritz-Carlton is now visibly Eau Palm Beach. The new name may lack international caché, but Ritz or Eau, AAA says it’s still worthy of five diamonds. (So are The Breakers and The Four Seasons. Boca Resort and Club gets four — and don’t be surprised if Blackstone Group puts it on the market next year.)
Across the street at John G’s, good food at a fair price still draws crowds.
    “It was a risk for us. We move over here and five months later the bridge closes. There were some tough times, but we made it,” confesses Wendy Yarbrough, a co-owner with brothers Jay and Keith.
    Customers loyal to John G’s, which was a staple on Lake Worth Beach for decades, continued to take the long away around. “The night they had the big parade, I was heading home and I could see the crowd waiting to cross,” she said. “That night I slept very well. Next morning at 7, we had a line waiting to get in, just like the old days.”
    For snowbirds and locals who can’t get enough of the flavors scooped out at the Ice Cream Club around the corner, take heart: The Ice Cream Club will now come to you!
    For $79, the club will pack six 14-percent butterfat pints, any flavors, in dry ice and ship them direct to your door. Baja Chocolate to Purple Daze, and some that co-founders Rich Draper and Tom Jackson owners have yet to dream up. Reduced fat, yogurts, sugar-free and sorbets are also available.
                                      ***
    The first kettle fired up in Boynton two years ago at Due South. Then around New Year’s in Delray, Salt Water Brewery kicked in with its amazing bar on Atlantic Avenue just west of the tracks along I-95. Not to be left out, Boca is getting a microbrewery. The Boca City Council said yes to a Barrel of Monks, a 9,100-square-foot space in the South Congress Industrial Park on Rodgers Circle. It’ll include an 867-square-foot tasting room and a 15-foot bar. Tours will be offered.
    Head “monk” Bill McFee is a veteran homebrewer who maintains a double life as a radiologist.  Loads of work remains before the first pint is poured.  
    Due South, incidentally, was named Best Large Brewery in the state at the Florida Brewers Guild Festival’s Beer Brewer’s Ball in Tampa March 2. That’s a mouthful, but so is the beer.
    Brewmaster Mike Halker claimed gold medals for his Mariana Trench Imperial Stout, Asylum Harbor Red Ale and Category 5 Double IPA, silver for the Cafe Ole Espresso Porter, and bronze for the Apple Brandy Aged Pico Duarte Imperial Stout.
                                      ***
    Irvin Lippman, who ran the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art from 2003 until his retirement in 2012, has been named interim director at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Lippman will run the museum and the search committee that will find a replacement for Steven Maklansky, who left Jan. 31 after only 2½ years on the job.
    Before Lauderdale, Lippman ran the Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art and was assistant director at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas from 1983 to 1994. His first museum job: staff lecturer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.


                                      ***
    Jewelry makes any woman a princess, but as a mentor once told Donna Schneier, special pieces make you a contessa. For nearly half a century, Schneier, a Manalapan resident, has been assembling a royal collection. And slowly but surely, she’s been giving it away … to museums. Her goal is to encourage the scholarship that will give art jewelry the legitimacy it deserves.
    However, Schneier, who chairs the Bijoux! Art Jewelry sale, a yearly fundraiser at the Norton Museum of Art, doesn’t give it to just anyone. In 2008, she donated 200 pieces from her personal collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibit is finally ready and will open May 12.
                                      ***
    Lights, camera … and lots of action, as the 19th Palm Beach International Film Festival kicked off April 3 at Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca with a screening of Belle. It’s about the daughter of a Royal Navy admiral who isn’t allowed to fully participate in society because she’s of mixed race but ultimately helps bring an end to slavery in England.
    The opening night party followed the screening at Bogart’s Bar & Grille in Cinemark.
    Robert Morse, who has succeeded in show business by really trying, will be honored with the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the April 7 screening of Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age. Director Rick McKay will receive the Visionary Award for his work documenting the Broadway stage. Another party will follow in Bogart’s.
    The festival will present 14 world, eight North American and eight U.S. premieres, a spotlight on Canadian films in conjunction with the Toronto festival and a salute to Hollywood classics at Eau Palm Beach (April 5). “The Jewish Experience,” a series at several venues includes four world premieres and three best picture nominees for Israel’s equivalent to the Academy Awards.
    Screenings, music and parties are also set at South Shores Tavern in Lake Worth (April 6) and The Dubliner in Boca’s Mizner Park (April 9).
    The festival closes April 10 at Cinemark Palace with a screening of Cas & Dylan and wrap party at Bogart’s with a special appearance by the director, Jason Priestley. A long way from 90210, Priestley claims 21 directing credits, although Cas & Dylan, which stars Richard Dreyfuss, is his first theatrical film. For information, go to www.pbifilmfest.org.
                                      ***
    Speaking of awards, Lake Worth and Delray Beach claimed two Muse Awards from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County March 13 at the Kravis Center. Lake Worth’s artistic attempt at road improvement, the annual Street Painting Festival, won the Council’s Choice Award, while the Chairs’ Choice Award went to the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray.
    Other winners included:
    Bill Hayes, producing artistic director at Palm Beach Dramaworks received the Clyde Fyfe Award for Performing Artists.
Two new awards were presented to Sharon Koskoff and Roe Green. The Ellen Liman Excellence in Arts Education Award went to Koskoff, who creates murals, conceptual installations, giant puppets and environmental designs. She also produces children’s programs and teaches at Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square. For her support of the arts community in time and money, Green, of Jupiter, was presented The Thalia Award.
    Also recognized: The Flagler Museum, Historical and Cultural Heritage; SunFest, Outstanding Festival; Norton Museum, Outstanding Collaboration; Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Excellence in Arts and Cultural Outreach; and Kravis Center, Excellence in Arts Integrated Education.
                                      ***
    FAU’s new president, John Kelly, is a man of the soil. His degrees are in agriculture and horticulture. He spent most of his academic career at Clemson University, which initially was South Carolina’s ag school before he helped it blossom into one of the nation’s top public universities. He likes to make things grow … and with FAU, he’ll have quite a row to hoe.
    Kelly clocked in March 1, and even before he arrived in Boca he showed just how grounded he is. Since his wife and children will remain in Carolina until school lets out, he rented a truck, loaded it with essentials and his favorite plants and drove to Boca.
    As soon as he arrived, he jumped on a plane for Tallahassee: time to meet state education officials and legislators, who are threatening to cut millions from FAU’s budget, in part because too few students graduate on time. He’s already had a small meet-and-greet with about 600 students, and the Making Waves Gala at the stadium March 29 provided the first opportunity to meet with deep-pocket supporters.
    Coming from Clemson, Kelly is by choice and education a sports fan. He’s already made it clear that he wants competitive teams. That’s good news to new football coach Charlie Partridge, who took time out from spring practice to join 200 guests at an 80th birthday celebration for former FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger at the Point Manalapan home of his old Louisville buddy, J.D. Nichols.
    Kelly didn’t make it. FAU’s former acting President Dennis Crudele did, as well as athletic director Pat Chun and retired Miami Dolphins safety Dick Anderson and receiver Nat Moore, former University of Miami team chaplain Father Leo Armbrust, Sports Illustrated writer John Underwood and retired Miami sportscaster Tony Segreto.
    Also in the throng, an old quarterback Howard recruited when he was an assistant to Bear Bryant at Alabama. But Joe Namath was so busy autographing footballs, he never even made it to Nichols’ pool deck.       
    “I’m breathless,” Howard said. “What a beautiful evening for the Schnellenberger family, and the family is all of you here tonight.”
When a woman in sequined gown serenaded him, a la Marilyn and JFK with “Happy Birthday, Mr. Schnellenberger,” the coach took it all in stride — but wife Beverlee required a little sweet talk. … No one comes between her and her man!

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at ThomSmith@ymail.com.

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