Long Island Tennis Magazine hosted the first of three Long Island Tennis Challenge Tournaments that will take place this Summer. The event brought together players of all levels including some of the top tennis players in the area at the beautiful Engineer’s Country Club in Roslyn, N.Y.
Despite weather concerns early on, the day turned out to be great and the clubs five har-tru courts were in excellent condition. As the day went on, it wasn’t only the weather that heated up, but also the competition, as the many spectators looking on took in some highly competitive tennis while enjoying food and drinks provided by the professional staff at the country club.
With three-time defending champions Jonathan Klee and Lionel Goldberg out of the Long Island Tennis Challenge Men’s Amateur Division draw with a late withdrawal, the bracket opened up as the rest of the field saw their opening for a potential title run.
Chris Colesanti and Casey Schnabel lost in the finals of one of last year’s installments of the Long Island Tennis Challenge, and would not let the same thing happen again this time around. The duo came in with a different attitude.
“We stayed calm and focused, no matter what was going on,” said Schnabel.
After finishing as the top seed in pool play, the pair took on Dan Kresh and Bob Scheer in the semifinals. The two evenly-matched teams played outstanding tennis. The match was filled with high-quality points and excellent winners before finally heading into a tiebreaker.
Colesanti and Schnabel prevailed 7-5 in the tiebreaker thanks to some successful volleying at the net from Colesanti.
“We figured out in the semifinals that me at the net and him [Casey] at the baseline maximized our strengths,” said Colesanti. “He set me up with volleys that I could put away and it worked.”
In the finals the pair would take on Paul Wilson and Yuri Savransky, who ousted Ed Kornstein and Chuck Silverstein in their semifinal.
There was a packed crowd watching this final as the participants of the Men’s Pro division congregated to take in the exciting championship. The first three games all saw breaks of serve as the Colesanti and Schnabel pairing took a 2-1 lead.
With Schnabel serving, the duo would secure the first hold of the match to open up a 3-1 lead. After a couple more holds of serve, Colesanti and Schnabel would secure one more break to open up a 5-2 lead. Schnabel calmly served out the match, finishing things off with a backhand winner that landed in between Wilson and Savransky.
“We didn’t panic and just stayed with it,” said Colesanti. “They were a good team but we were able to come through.”
After very competitive play in the Women’s Amateur Division it came down to two teams: defending champions Simone Crames and Lisa Goldstein and newcomers Hallie Katz and Donna Weiss. Both of their roads to the finals did not come easy as they had to get through tough teams in their respective semifinals, Sue Bacy and Maritoni Carlos, and Shanice Arthur and Kristina Haven, respectively.
Katz and Weiss opened up the finals by holding serve after a very long game that went to deuce. They were able to pull this game out after a great put away volley by Katz following a long rally.
Crames and Goldstein looked to answer by holding their serve as well, and did so thanks to a strong service game from Crames.
In the next game, after a very long and tough service game, Crames and Goldstein were able to break their opponents on deuce point with a beautiful lob.
Now up 2-1, Goldstein looked to close out the match by holding her serve. That is exactly what she was able to do after serving four straight balls that their opponents were not able to put back in play. Both Crames and Goldstein had not dropped a point on their service games and won the match by a score of 3-1. This was Crames and Goldstein’s second straight championship at the Long Island Tennis Challenge as they defended their title from last summer.
“We have been playing together for almost 20 years so we know each other games backwards and forwards,” said Goldstein. “But I’ve never had to rise like I did today to win this tournament.”
This win was even more special than the one last year for Crames.
“It’s my birthday today and this is exactly what I wanted to do to celebrate,” she said.
Rounding out play for the day was the men’s pro division which consisted of two pools of six teams, with the top two teams from each pool advancing to the semifinals.
One semifinal featured Gustavo Loza (St. Johns, ’08) and Alan Nunez (St. Johns class of 2019) taking on Roey Heymann (Adelphi, class of 2017) and Constantinos Papavasilou. On the other side were two pros from Sportime Kings Park, Dimitar Pamukchiyan and Martin Shishkiv battling it out against Michael Nelson (Oneonta State) and Rajan Vohra, a high school player from the area.
Advancing to the final were Pamukchiyan and Shishkov and Loza and Nunez. The final was decided by one set to 6 games with no-ad scoring.
The first game was an easy hold for Nunez, who had been serving well all day and the following game was a break of serve by Loza and Nunez on a return winner by Loza at deuce.
Loza, Shishkov and Nunez held in games three, four and five respectively, and in the sixth game, Pamukchiyan hit a backhand slice wide at 30-40 to give the St. Johns duo a 5-1 lead.
Loza had the win on his strings serving at 5-1 but Pamukchiyan and Shishkov weren’t going to be put away so easily. At 15-15 Shiskov hit an incredible forehand winner to make it 15-30, but then made errors in the next two points to go down 40-30. Loza then hit an overhead long giving both teams a game point at deuce.
In a lengthy final point, Shiskov hit a backhand into the net to give Gustavo Loza and Alan Nunez the 6-1 victory.
“It is my favorite tournament of the year. It is at such a nice club, there is always top competition and the treatment of the players is first class,” said Loza, a two-time champion at the event. “I encourage everybody to play and organize these types of events because they are great for the sport…I already have the next one saved on my calendar.”
The next installment of the Long Island Tennis Challenge will be held on Saturday, June 11 at the Hamlet Golf and Country Club in Commack.
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Scenes from the Long Island Tennis Challenge