38th annual Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce draws 116 teams to Wickliffe

·3 min read

Aug. 27—Bocce players from as far away as Rhode Island, Florida, Chicago and Ontario gathered in Wickliffe from Aug. 26-28 for the 38th annual Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce.

Teams competed on nine covered bocce courts at the Wickliffe Italian-American Club, 29717 Euclid Ave. According to event organizers, 100 teams of four participated in the Open Division and 16 in the Women's Division.

John Tedeschi of Westerly, Rhode Island, competed in the tournament for the second time. He said he played bocce at "a few backyard parties" growing up in Brooklyn, New York, but only started playing on a court 15 years ago.

"The level of play basically was what got us to come down," Tedeschi said.

He added, "Everyone here is super, super nice, great people, and we hope to come every year for as long as we can."

Tournament Director Paul DiCicco estimated that Ron Capogreco has been coming since the mid-1990s. Capogreco, from the Youngstown area, said that he started coming when his father played. Now, he plays on a team with his son Anthony.

"I just love the people," he said.

Capogreco added that there is "a lot of good competition up here."

He said that he has played in other tournaments, including the World Series of Bocce in Rome, New York, where he, Anthony and their teammates won in 2019.

Though his team had one loss in the double-elimination tournament as of the morning of Aug. 27, he remained hopeful.

"This is the only one I haven't won yet, so...that's my goal," Capogreco said.

"We have, just, world-championship bocce," DiCicco explained.

He noted that all 100 Open Division spots were taken within 24 hours. Women's Division Director Rose Matiyasic added that there was a waiting list for her division.

DiCicco and the club's Financial Secretary, Enrico Varricchio, both said that attendance was high on the evening of Aug. 26, with DiCicco noting that it "might have been our best Friday."

He added that the event brings revenue to local hotels, restaurants, gas stations, stores, bars and more. The Remarkable Lake County visitors bureau also had a stand at the event.

The event also included a full bar, coffee from Koine Coffee in Canton and food vendors, DiCicco said, including Lucio's Italian Restaurant, Gibaldi's PDC Cafe, Corbo's of Little Italy and Trevi Catering.

Other vendors included Royal Havana Cigars of Willoughby and Tony G's Italian Apparel of Highland Heights. Both vendors noted that they had good sales at the tournament, with Jeff Gioitta of Tony G's adding that teams from outside the area would buy souvenirs from his stand.

In addition to the tournament play, DiCicco said that cultural activities were planned for Aug. 27. The event schedule listed a cooking demonstration, local Italian history display and live music.

Aug. 28 will be the tournament's Family Day, he added.

According to the schedule, Rick Smith Jr. will perform a magic show from 1-1:50 p.m., followed by Jungle Terry at 2 p.m. and DJ Dave at 3 p.m. The Women's Division Championship will begin around 4 p.m., and the Open Division Championship around 6 p.m.

The tournament is sponsored by Serpentini Chevrolet of Willoughby Hills.