Zephyrhills duo claim doubles crown
By Kyle LoJacono
Zephyrhills residents Gus Bondi and Walt Shine expected to do well at the Eastern National Shuffleboard Doubles Championship, and they went out and showed why their city is known for the game.
“I was hoping, but you know with shuffleboard it’s a game of mistakes and if someone makes a mistake you can be pretty well eaten up fast,” Shine said. “I had a good partner in Gus Bondi, and I knew if we played well we had a pretty good chance.”
The final match went to a decisive third game, which became a back-and-forth contest. Bondi and Shine took a big lead of nearly 40 points, but the opposition managed to tie things up. The Zephyrhills duo finally broke through to win the championship on Sept. 2.
The two have played as a team a few times before, but never at a national tournament. Despite the lack of experience together, they managed to go 4-0 in the event en route to winning the title in Hendersonville, N.C.
“Gus is very good to play with,” said Shine, who started playing in 1998. “He knows if I make a mistake I didn’t do it on purpose, and I know that too. We’re all trying to play our best and we all make mistakes. That’s his attitude, and it’s easy to play with someone like that. I would definitely play with him again.”
Bondi echoed Shine’s sentiment.
“I made mistakes and he didn’t say anything; he made mistakes and I didn’t say anything,” said Bondi, who picked up the sport 10 years ago. “It takes two to win a tournament. Everybody makes mistakes, but whoever makes the fewest mistakes and comes back from their mistakes wins.”
Bondi has played in Hendersonville about five times before, but it was Shine’s first time on those courts.
“I had a wonderful time,” Shine said. “I play to have fun, so that makes me more relaxed and makes it more enjoyable. It’s a game, so you’re going to win and lose, but certainly I want to be the one who wins. If I don’t, it’s only a game.”
It is the second national title for each of the east Pasco County residents. Shine won the Summer National Championship Any Doubles title at Betmar in Zephyrhills in June. Bondi claimed his first crown at the Eastern Nationals in 2005.
Bondi and Shine were not the only Zephyrhills residents near the top at the event. Buddy Allen came in third in the men’s singles tournament. Bondi said that speaks to the level of play in east Pasco.
“Zephyrhills in my opinion is the shuffleboard capital of the world,” Bondi said. “There are a lot of good shufflers, and wherever they go there is always a fair representation on the leader board.”
Bondi and Shine are now in Arizona playing in the East West Goodwill Games.