| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo credit: Bas Photography

Beach tennis is a lot of fun to play, but just like anything else, things are more fun when you can enjoy them with your friends. The backbone of any sport is the sport’s competitors, and beach tennis simply needed more of them. Before this summer, there were no beach tennis leagues, no weekly organized play, and tournaments had become extremely small. As winter turned to spring, there were many questions with few answers regarding what the summer of 2014 would bring for the sport within the Metropolitan area. Luckily, those questions were answered by a newly formed organization named New York Beach Tennis (NYBT). NYBT brought fun in the sun and many new "friends"  out onto the sands of Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, N.Y.

NYBT was founded in the spring of 2014 by David Sickmen (owner of United Sports Publications). NYBT formed a partnership with Crest Hollow Country Club, a facility that boasts four beautiful sand courts in its backyard. NYBT found Crest Hollow to be the perfect site to host four tournaments, as well as weeknight "Under the Lights" league play and weekend organized practice sessions. Overall, NYBT formed a business plan, bringing in sponsors and players, while making sure communication, organization and marketing were all top notch to breed the growth essential for sustainability of the sport.

It didn't take long for success to begin, as the organization, host facility and NYBT's strong ties to the tennis community throughout the Metropolitan area brought players out in droves to the Crest Hollow’s sands. At the first tournament of the summer, Devin Wakeford from Westchester, N.Y. and Phil Stolt from New York City were crowned the Men’s Doubles Champions. After the tournament, Stolt had this to say: "A great tournament with great weather and an all-around great day! Thanks to NYBT, DJ Curtis McCalla, and all of the sponsors. I encourage everyone to join us and play NYBT. It will surely be a great day in the sun and the sand."

Phil’s sentiments were echoed by everyone who was on the sand that day, and it set the tone for what NYBT would bring to the table all summer long.

"I had an amazing time playing in the NYBT tournaments at Crest Hollow,” said Jen Petersen. “The competition was great, the atmosphere and the music were amazing, and my doubles partner and I cannot wait until the next tournament!"

Competition is always fierce on the court, but the camaraderie off the court is of major significance as well. The NYBT competitors get along really well and had tons of fun together. NYBT certainly made sure all the players and onlookers were entertained during tournaments. Music played in the background, courtesy of DJ Curtis McCalla, players mingled between the Jamba Juice Player’s Hut, which offered complimentary smoothies, the John McEnroe Tennis Academy beach games where Cornhole and the Ring Toss became big hits, and players even took a swim in the beautiful pool at Crest Hollow just steps away from the courts. The New York Islanders Ice Girls made an appearance, hitting a few shots on the sand and taking pictures with the players at tournaments, and there was never a shortage of good food to eat as the Crest Hollow staff had waiters/waitresses serving food to the players throughout the day. Players were always treated well and swag bags with tons of gifts from the many sponsors that NYBT worked with this summer were given out to players.

During the weekly "Under the Lights" league play, there was often a great band playing (Tooty and the Mother Plucker, featuring two NYBT players who are also members of Crest Hollow, Barbara and Raf Pincon) and the Club had the food and pool open late night while NYBT brought in dozens of players to play each week. People would play late into the night, and everyone left smiling.

“NYBT has infused life into the beach tennis community in New York this summer, using its vast resources to create a young, athletic and talented base of players that is growing daily,” said Sickmen. “There is such a positive buzz around what we are doing, and so many good tennis players and athletes are getting involved. To have full draws, professional organization, a beautiful club to play at and great people involved has made it a fun summer on the sand for myself and many others. Everyone is happy!”

The partnership between NYBT and Crest Hollow allowed for a place for players to play on weeknights and weekends. NYBT supplied the players and Crest Hollow provided the venue. NYBT players also volunteered their time to teach new players and train with players at no cost to anyone. This made Crest Hollow’s members quite happy as many joined the fun this summer for the first time.

“I am really pleased with the turnouts of the NYBT tournaments, and to see so many new beach tennis players at Crest Hollow,” said Brad Berger. “With so much new competition, we all had a great summer!"

In its first summer, NYBT created the largest base of beach tennis members in the country. More than 100 new players took to the sand for multiple sold-out tournaments, an amazing feat from where things began in May. NYBT, Crest Hollow and its members, the NYBT players and the sport were all winners this summer despite the many obstacles that were overcome.