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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | December 2005 

Yan Welffens Wins 1st Annual Torneo de Tennis at Los Tules
email this pageprint this pageemail usMartin Parra - PVNN

Los Tules finalists in the A divison, winner Yan Welffens and runner up Emile Larrivee congratulate each other after match point.

Click HERE for the photo galleries
The 1st Annual Crucero Santamaria/Tamale Café tennis tournament at Los Tules was held this past week arranged and assembled by Los Tules tennis pro Alex Sanchez, the finals played on Saturday. A total of 70 men played in four divisions; A, B, C and D; the finals all played Saturday afternoon. After the completion of the B, C and D finals, two non-Mexican born popular local players played in the A division final Saturday late in the afternoon.

Long time Puerto Vallarta resident, originally from Montreal, Emile Larrivee played friend and foe, Yan Welffens born in Africa's Ivory Coast for the "A" trophy. Larryve had recently won a tournament at the Westin Resort and has been a fan favorite in Vallarta, with his easygoing demeanor and humor. On the court in the finals, the two spoke in three languages during the match, confusing spectators as well as amusing them. They are both fluent in French, Spanish and English, and at times some French was utilized between the two during points.

There was a contrast in playing styles, Welffens playing a smooth, consistent game, while Larryve plays with an unorthodox serve and ground strokes, but quite effectively. The first set started with each player losing serve in the first four games before Welffens held serve and took a 4-2 lead. Yan broke Emille once more and won the first set 6-3.

Fans in attendance were cheering mostly for Emille, but as the second set moved along, the cheering changed in favor of Yan for a different reason. Tamales were being brought across the street from one of the two sponsors, The Tamale Café and everyone in attendance was to enjoy the delicious treats after the tournament. Thus the change in cheering. Had Larryve won the second set, the crowd would have to wait another 30-45 minutes before eating.

The second set started differently than the first, with both players holding serve until the service breaks began in the third game. Welffens held serve to take a 4-2 lead and led 40 -love on his serve the following game, when Larryve forced the game to deuce and won the game. In the recent Westin tournament Emille, in the same position; down a set and losing 4-2 in the second went on to win nine consecutive games and win the championship. Yan, however came right back in the following game and then served out the match to win 6-3, 6-4.

The players embraced at the net portraying superb sportsmanship after a well played match, received their trophies and joined the crowd for tamales.

Earlier results in the finals had Dr. Zapata at 67 years old defeat a very young opponent, Joaquin Comella, Jr. 6-2, 6-3 to win the "D" division. In the "C" bracket, Manuel Caballero also won in straight sets over Daniel Comella 6-4, 6-2. The "B" division trophy was taken by Gabino Suarez 6-1, 6-3 over Ramcy Casab.

Speaking with Welffens after the match, I found he has lived in Puerto Vallarta for two years, moving here from New York City, leaving IT Consulting and then attending Cornell University for his Masters degree in Hotel Management. Yan is now the Director of Revenue Management at the Westin Resort and Spa. A friendly soft spoken young gentleman originally from the Ivory Coast of Africa, will now lay claim to being one of the top "A" local players. Emille was gracious in defeat and stated that he didn't have it all working Saturday and complemented his friend and opponent for a well played match.

The other sponsor was Crucero Santamaria who's owner, Saul Lopez Orozco was on hand and gave shirts to the finalists, and donated a couple of day trips on one of the company's boats. The day trips are a favorite of tourists and entertaining locals as well and include an open bar, 45 minutes of snorkeling at Los Arcos and a delicious lunch and three hour stay at Los Animas beach, about 15 miles south of town and can be reached only by boat. To book an eight hour cruise, one can call 221-2511 or visit their website at

The Tamale Café, owned by Rene Mendoza is across the street from Los Tules just north of Lans department store at Plaza Caracol. The tamales are rumored to be the best in town.

Los Tules Tennis Director Alex Sanchez put together a wonderful tournament and we will be watching for more from the popular pro in the near future. Well done Alex.

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