For the sixth consecutive year, Long Island Tennis Magazine brought together tennis players of all ages and levels together for a day of competitive tennis, fun, friends and food as it hosted the annual Long Island Tennis Challenge at The Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack, N.Y.
The Challenge has become a staple of the early-summer tennis season here on Long Island, and featured five different divisions of play on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
The day started with a free one hour clinic for Hamlet members and tournament participants courtesy of Sportime Kings Park. The clinic warmed up the players and after a nice continental breakfast spread the tournament was ready to begin.
In the Women’s B Division, Debbie Biederman and Adele Bohensky outdueled Lori Ricciuti and Nancy DiGiacomo 4-1 in a short-set championship match. Between some excellent communication and a key lob on match point, Biederman and Bohensky were able to close things out to win the title.
“I think we played very well together and we’re good partners,” said Bohensky.
“It was a lovely event,” added Biederman. “We won two years ago, so we’re pretty happy to be able to do so again.”
Jenny So and Erina Kikuchi squared off against Donna Ryan and Lisa Goldberg in the Women’s A final, with So and Kikuchi securing the championship with a 6-1 victory.
See below for photo slideshow.
So and Kikuchi served extremely well, and were able to come out on top in the long rallies with some effective volleying to notch the win.
“The key was just communication, moving our feet and being aggressive,” said So. “We wanted to get our first serves in and make sure not to be hesistant.”
James Avallone and Brian Dulberg ran the table in the Men’s B Division, and dialed up their best tennis in the championship match to beat Junghoon Park and Dongsung Lim and hoist the Long Island Tennis Challenge title.
In a back-and-forth final in the Men’s A division, Bryan Byer and John Paradisi edged Dan Kresh and Russ Difazio 7-5. Neither team was able to find rhythm on serve early as the theme of the first eight games was breaks of serve.
Paridisi fired a forehand winner on game point at 4-4 to bring the pair within one game of the championship. But Kresh held serve in the ensuing game to bring things to 5-5, and after another hold of serve, Difazio was tasked with serving to stay in the match.
Byer and Paradisi continued the excellent volleying that had propelled them to the final, breaking serve to end the match and win the title.
“In the final we were fighting the wind a bit, but then we were able to figure it out,” said Paradisi. “We made some key shots at the right times and pulled it through at the end.”
The headliner of the event card was the Men’s Pro Division which had a $750 cash prize on the line, and featured top collegiate and high school players, as well as teaching pros and former ATP Pro Tour players.
The tournament started with pool play with the top two teams from each pool advancing.
In one semifinal Danny Pellerito and Finbar Talcott took on Airam Castellano and Caio Zampieri. Pellerito and Talcott hung tough early but Castellano and Zampieri used their experience to their benefit and punched their ticket to the final.
In the other semifinal Dmytro Kovalevych and Anton Protsenko took on Derek Difazio and Elliot Fanshell. Kovalevych and Protsenko were able to stay tough and come out on top to set up a fantastic final.
The final took place on the Hamlet's Center Court, the same court once played on by Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and others when the Hamlet Cup was part of the ATP Tour.
The match was very evenly played, with both teams battling through the first six games to bring the score to 3-3. But Castellano and Zampieri took over from there, winning three of the match’s final four games, using great angles to setup their aggressive net game. In the end the match came down to a couple key points and Castellano and Zampieri were able to step up in those situations.
Castellano and Zampieri took home their first Long Island Tennis Challenge title with a 6-4 victory.
“We played really well today, and I think our level increased as the day went on,” said Castellano.
“Overall, I thought it was a really cool event,” said Zampieri. “It’s played in one day, so it’s a shorter type event which was really nice to play in and be a part of.”
Long Island Tennis Magazine would like to give a special thanks to Bruce Moodnik and The Hamlet for hosting our event once again as well as the pros from SPORTIME Kings Park who conducted the morning clinic. We'd also like to thank our great sponsors Elso Athletics, inPhorm, My Game Solutions, SPORTIME/JMTA, the New York Empire, the New York Open and USTA Eastern for providing prizes and giveaways to the winners and participants.
“The event went very smoothly, from the opening warm-up clinic to the last point of the pro tournament,” said Bruce Moodnik, The Hamlet’s Tennis Director. “This is the third year that The Hamlet has been the host club for the Long Island Tennis Challenge. To be able to have players of all levels play on the same courts that the top pros of the world did years ago is such a special and exciting feeling. We look forward to having it here again next year.”