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She calls it “The Gigi Method,” and tennis players got an on-court tutorial in early August at the Nahant Tennis Club with former two-time Olympic gold medalist and 17-time major winner in doubles tennis Gigi Fernández.

“It was an awesome day from start to finish,” said Andrea Gogolos, who is on the Board of Directors at the Nahant Tennis Club. “It’s so incredible to have someone who reached the pinnacle of their sport come in and teach you a whole new way to play tennis.”

In international competition, Fernández represented the United States and won gold medals in doubles play alongside Mary Jo Fernández in 1992 and 1996.

“Winning the Olympic gold medal is a life-changing experience, and nothing matches that,” said Fernández. “Not many people remember or relate to the 17 Grand Slam victories, but everyone remembers who won the gold medal. No one can ever take that away from you.”

Fernández now spends her time coaching adult players how to excel at doubles. She travels the country doing clinics and camps and hosts The Gigi Method Tennis Camps for enthusiasts who want more in-depth instruction from Fernández. 

Her patented approach includes six steps: positioning, court coverage, the serve, the return, shot selection and competition. 

Fernandez ran through skills-building lessons at the Tennis Club grouped around positioning and coverage at the net to avoid passing shots, how to eliminate middle confusion, secrets and benefits of the stagger formation, movement patterns at the net for optimal poaching, and how to beat the lobbers. 

Fernández is considered to be one of the greatest doubles players of all time. She is an International Tennis Hall of Famer and the winner of 17 Grand Slam doubles titles with various partners along with two Olympic gold medals. 

“It was incredibly informative and interesting, because her method and strategy are so different from what a lot of us have been taught about doubles play,” said Gogolos. “We really learned a lot, and it’s making me want to take part in more of her clinics in the future.”

The event was also a big day for the Nahant Tennis Club, a small nonprofit that resides on the grounds of Nahant Country Club. Nahant has a special connection to the game of tennis, having been the site of the first-ever tennis match, when Jim Dwight and Fred Sears faced off on Dr. William Appleton’s lawn in 1874. 

“We’re a small club and we don’t have the big membership or hallowed grounds that some other bigger clubs have,” said Gogolos. “To be able to have an event like this and work with an international tennis star is just incredible and we’re very fortunate.”

Fernández was named in 2002 Puerto Rican Athlete of the Century. In October 2014, espnW voted Gigi Fernández the 10th-most-influential Hispanic athlete in history. The big-serving and hard-hitting native of San Juan, Puerto Rico was the first female athlete from her country to become a professional in any sport.

Fernández was fiery, tenacious, exuberant, and displayed her emotions on the court freely en route to 17 major doubles titles with four different partners. Fourteen of those titles were shared with Natasha Zverera, who complimented her spirited partner perfectly. While the duo weren’t complete opposites, Zvereva’s all-court game balanced her partner’s aggressive mantra. Whereas Fernández was fire, Zvereva was ice.

Appropriately, the pair entered the Hall of Fame together in 2010.

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Kim Hughes-Floutsakos remembers the first time she met NBA superstar Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo. 

It was 2001 and the Swampscott native was teaching English in a suburban Athens private school called Athens College, and all of a sudden one of the male faculty members walked into her classroom with a tall, skinny 7-year-old.

“Giannis wasn’t enrolled in the school at the time, but he was hanging out in front of the school’s gate and one of the men at the school just kind of assumed that he should be in school and brought him into my classroom,” said Hughes-Floutsakos, who is the daughter of the late Jim Hughes, a well-known Swampscott businessman and coach. “He and his family were very poor at the time, and we all did our best to help him out with things like clothes and food and whatever else we could give.”

Antetokounmpo’s rise from son of impoverished immigrants to NBA superstar and champion with the Milwaukee Bucks is one of the most unlikely stories in all of sports, and Hughes-Floutsakos had a front row seat to the early days of that rise. 

But things were not easy for the Antetokounmpo family in Greece. For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo — who is now 26 years old — couldn’t travel outside the country and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria because, despite being born in Greece, he didn’t automatically receive Greek citizenship; Greek nationality law follows “jus sanguinis,” or determining one’s citizenship based on their parents’ nationality. His parents’ status as immigrants made it hard for them to find work, forcing Antetokounmpo and his brothers to help provide for the family. 

Despite all of the challenges, Hughes-Floutsakos remembers Antetokounmpo’s selflessness and determination to provide for his family above all else.

“He was such a sweet boy, and he was also supporting his family at the time so he really grew up fast,” said Hughes-Floutsakos, who currently lives in Swampscott. “He would bring lunches from school home to his family and things like that, but he was also always such an outgoing, positive and smart person. He was just a really good kid through and through.”

And she can’t remember a time when he wasn’t playing sports, especially basketball.

“He was always a gifted athlete and he pretty much always played basketball,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “He was so outgoing; he was always the one who was organizing the games and leading the other kids.”

In her time teaching Antetokounmpo subjects like English, Greek and Arabic over the years, she came to know his family as well. Antetokounmpo’s father, who died at age 54 in 2017, was a former professional soccer player in Nigeria and his mother is a former high jumper. Three of Antetokounmpo’s four brothers — Thanasis, Kostas and Alex — are currently professional basketball players, with Thanasis right beside Giannis on the Bucks roster. 

“They’re an incredibly proud family and they’re so close,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “Their mother is such an amazing woman and all of the kids have just become such great people.”

Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th overall by the Bucks in 2013 — making him an instant millionaire. The stories of him sending all of his money back home to his family in Greece have been talked about since then, including the time when, in 2014, he sent so much money to his family that he didn’t have enough for cab fare from the Western Union to the arena for practice. He ran most of the way there in 20-degree weather before a local couple gave him a ride to the arena.

In the eight years since he’s been drafted, Antetokounmpo has turned himself into the quintessential NBA superstar. And on Tuesday night, after defying the odds once more and taking home an NBA championship, the young man that Hughes-Floutsakos taught English to 20 years before stood in front of an international audience and spoke perfect English.

“I mean, he’s just a superstar,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “It’s so funny to look back at the young, skinny kid I knew all those years ago and then see him now with all he’s accomplished. 

“And it’s not even just what he’s done on the court, it’s what he’s done for the kids of Athens and other disadvantaged kids,” Hughes-Floutsakos said. “I’m just so proud of who he’s become, and I know everyone else in his life is just as proud.”

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Amber O’Shea and Tim Oviatt have come a long way as owners of Ocean House Surf and Skate.

The surf-and-skate shop had humble beginnings. The business started in Salem in 2011, with Oviatt selling gear out of his truck and garage. One year later, Oviatt moved his base of operations to Beverly Port Marina, and in 2013, moved the shop to Swampscott where he stayed until 2021. 

The shop in Swampscott also had a café, which is where O’Shea and Oviatt connected because O’Shea was a frequent customer. Eventually, with her experience working in the food industry, she helped him run the café. O’Shea became more involved in the business as it grew by doing some buying for Oviatt, who also makes custom boards at the shop.

Ocean House made its way to Nahant just before Christmas of last year, as the business moved into its new location at 2A Wilson Road, with construction taking longer than expected.

O’Shea said the Nahant community has been great in supporting the shop.

“Everybody has been really cool,” she said. “Two days before Christmas, all of our branded gear and T-shirts — everybody bought them so we ran out. Everybody seems really stoked.”

O’Shea said that Long Beach in Nahant is a great spot for surfing due to its long waves and shallow and sandy makeup. This also makes it a suitable surf spot for beginners, as well as more advanced surfers.

The pandemic has helped people step out of their comfort zones and try some new hobbies, especially ones that can get them outdoors. O’Shea said that in the past two years, surfing and skating have really blown up.

“Everybody just wants to be outside,” she said. “We’ve really seen the sport blow up lately and we have a ton of beginners coming into the shop that are super excited.”

O’Shea also mentioned the technological advances that have helped the sport grow in colder areas of the planet. 

“I don’t think a lot of people realized you can surf in Massachusetts,” she said. “The wetsuit technology wasn’t really up to par 20 years ago, so if you lived in a cold-weather place or somewhere where the waves are best in the cold weather, you wouldn’t (have) seen a lot of surfers in the water decades ago because the technology wasn’t there.”

O’Shea compared hitting the beaches of Massachusetts to going skiing or snowboarding.

“If you have the right gear, you can surf on a 20-degree day and be fine,” she said.

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On Sept. 2, 1918, just over two months before World War I would end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Cpl. John Enos Blocksidge of Swampscott, who had enlisted into the U.S. Army the previous April, was killed in action by enemy shell fire at the Battle of Juvigny, north of Soissons, in France.

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By Brion O’Connor

Peter Hale, one of the most decorated track and field athletes in Swampscott High School and Williams College history, was no overnight success. His first competitive foray into running was one he’d probably rather forget.

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Boston Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro is carried off the field on a stretcher by teammates and the trainers of both the Red Sox and the California Angels after he was beaned by Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton in the fourth inning of their game at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass., Aug. 18, 1967. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)


He had been in a slump. Tony Conigliaro, the 22-year-old kid who, earlier in 1967, had become the youngest player in the history of the American League to reach the 100-homer mark, was in a rut and hadn’t hit one out in 10 days.

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Looks can be deceiving.

That’s true whether you’re sizing up a blind date or trying to figure out how healthy a person is. And it’s especially true with traumatic brain injuries — or, as they are commonly known, concussions.

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Nautical historians will tell you Swampscott is best known as the New England town where the fishing dory and the lobster pot were invented.

But over the past half century, while fish stocks dwindled, the town’s interest in recreational sailing continued to grow.

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Swampscott men tackle the ‘Mount Everest of swimming’


There will likely be jellyfish, water temperatures dipping below 60 degrees, salt-water induced swelling of lips and tongues, skin chafing and stretches of hunger and fatigue, but that won’t stop Swampscott’s Andy Jones and Tommy Gainer from attempting to swim the English Channel this summer.

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Town Barre owner Michelle Nigro opened a new Marblehead studio in late February. 

The trendy workout finds a new home locally


Women of all ages are flocking to a new bar in town — where fitness, not alcohol, is served.

Swampscott resident Michelle Nigro opened her own studio, Town Barre, on Tioga Way in Marblehead (in the same complex as CrossFit Marblehead) in late February. She offers daily barre classes, as well as cardio dance and TRX® suspension training classes.

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