The Long Island Tennis Challenge returned for its fifth year as more than 40 doubles teams came out to The Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack.
The day began with pros from Sportime Kings Park giving a clinic which helped prepare the competitors for the start of play. The morning session was host to four different divisions of play scattered across the eight outdoor courts of The Hamlet.
The Men’s Pro division was played in the afternoon and featured a $750 cash prize for the winners, and the players in the tournament fiercely competed to claim that purse.
In the end, it was former New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) standout Rafal Charkiewicz and Columbia’s Mikal Rolski who would come out victorious in the pro division.
The duo, who have known each other since they were 10-years-old, defeated Ben Marks and Luis Vivas 4-1 in the semifinals, before matching up against Dmytro Kovalevych and Anton Protsenko in the championship.
Charkiewicz and Rolski would get a key break of serve late in the final to edge Kovalevych and Protsenko 7-5.
“I think the key to win this tournament was our consistent and aggressive game throughout the day,” said Charkiewicz. “In the final, I would say we returned better and played better at the net than our opponents.
I think the tournament was really well-organized. We always had enough time to recover after the matches and we got new balls for each match.”
Chris Colesanti and R.J. Narciso would come out victorious in the Men’s Amateur A division, beating Jeff Kimmel and Eric Diton 6-4 in the final.
Coming through the semifinals and then prevailing in the finals was no easy task for the duo as Narciso was dealing with a bad hamstring, which he hurt earlier in the tournament.
“R.J. pulled his hamstring during the last round-robin match and was hampered the rest of the day,” said Colesanti. “He wasn’t able to move as well as normal, so we had to make a few adjustments to our game plan. I became more aggressive and covered some more of the court. We also tried to shorten the points and avoid long baseline rallies.
We had some tight moments in the final and had to dig deep.”
The pair was serving for 4-1 before they were broken and later found themselves tied at 3-3. But they regrouped, and broke while up 5-4 to close out the match and win the title.
The fourth-seeded duo of Katie Figgie and Mariel Hollins had to upset the top two seeds on their way to winning the championship in the Women’s Amateur A division.
First, Figgie and Hollins ousted the top-seeds Lisa Goldberg and Donna Ryan 4-1 in the semifinals before moving into the finals to take on the second-seeds, Lauren Brenner and Darlene Pergola.
Figgie and Hollins defeated Brenner and Pergola in an exciting final to claim the Women’s Amateur A title.
In the Men’s Amateur B draw, Larry Maglione and Rob Rusche outlasted William Sannuto and Ray Rahbari 4-3(10-5) to win the championship.
Lori Diton and Carla Karen would take home the title in the Women’s B division.
The Hamlet provided an array of food and refreshments including wraps, bagels, fruit salad, desserts, water, etc. on a perfect day for tennis. Winners from the Amateur divisions received quarterfinal tickets to the New York Open as well as a bottle of champagne. A few lucky winners also received New York Empire tickets.
The winners and runner-ups from the women’s divisions were also rewarded with a beautiful outfit from 30Fifteen. All players received a can of balls from the New York Open, plus a water bottle courtesy of MyGameSolutions and an array of gifts from Long Island Tennis Magazine.
A HEAD Tennis bag was raffled off courtesy of MyGameSolutions, and Lisa Goldberg was the lucky winning of the new gear. Thanks to all of our sponsors, the New York Open, USTA Eastern, Sportime/JMTA, PGA Superstore, inPhorm, 30Fifteen, Upordownspin, MyGameSolutions and, of course, The Hamlet Golf and Country Club, for making the 2018 Long Island Tennis Challenge a success.
This was the third time that The Hamlet hosted the Long Island Tennis Challenge, and Bruce Moodnik, The Hamlet’s Head Tennis Professional, and his staff once again did a fantastic job.
“We were very excited to be the host club for a third straight year,” said Moodnik. “In addition to having four amateur tournaments being played, it is wonderful to see local and pro tour players return to compete at the former site of The Hamlet Cup, which in year's past was the warm-up tournament for the U.S. Open.
I’m already looking forward to next year.”
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Scenes from the 2018 Long Island Tennis Challenge