The appearance at the 2021 USTA National Championships will be a special one for Carefree Racquet Club.
Achieving Nationals is always notable, but this year is a little different. For the most part, this group has been playing with or against each other for the better part of 20 years. The team is loaded with leadership. Captains and ex-Captains fill the roster: Eric Chaffer, Jon Klee, Joe Polestino, Adam Kolenberg, Lionel Goldberg and Robert Scott Chesney have all been captains for Long Island teams since 2000. Although the team is led by Andrew Wiese, Dane Phillips, Polestino, Josh Lefkowitz and Chaffer, we got contributions from everyone. Phillips, Aashik Merchant and RJ Narciso might very well be playing the best tennis of their lives NOW.
We have an older team, with most either older than 50, or closer to the half-century mark than they are to 40. Mark Harrison (huge win at sectionals with Jared Kaplan), is approaching 70-years-old. Dave Dikman, Joe Perri, Lionel Goldberg, Adam Kolenberg, Mark Beares, and the aforementioned Harrison all participated in 55s and over Sectionals this past August.
Another thing that makes this group special is we have three players returning from serious injuries or life-changing medical procedures. Keith Lopez is just under a year out from knee replacement surgery. He started his comeback in late June and was still able to post a 3-2 record in local play.
Joseph Perri himself is about a year removed from having a hip replacement. Joe was 2-2 in the local season, but had a huge win at Sectionals with Chaffer. He’s just about all the way back now.
Klee is only a year away from having ACL reconstruction on his knee. He is also possibly playing the best tennis of his life right now, and had the clinching victory at sectionals alongside Aashok Merchant at first doubles over the team from New Jersey.
All three of these players are over 50. All three had to work incredibly hard to make it back. All three are now rewarded with having the opportunity to compete at the highest level for our age group at the National Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona in mid-October.
All are inspirations. That's why this is special.
The team is captained by Robert Chesney, with Goldberg serving as co-Captain and Vincent Perri as the Assistant Captain. The full roster is: Robert Chesney, Jonathan Klee, Adam Kolenberg, Lionel Goldberg, Aashik Merchant, Mark Harrison, Jared Kaplan, Mark Beares, Josh Lefkowitz, Eric Chaffer, RJ Narciso, Dane Phillips, Joseph Perri, Philip Castellano, Keith Lopez, David Dikman, Joseph Polestino, Keith Mattes and Andrew Wiese.