Players competed across four different divisions as the LITM Challenge Series continued
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff


The fourth and final Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge of 2022 brought together men’s and women’s doubles teams for a fun and competitive Saturday on the courts of Sportime Syosset.

Players were spread out across four different divisions with round-robin play leading into the respective knockout rounds.

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The fast-paced format of the round-robin matches allows for all the teams to play a multitude of matches against a variety of opponents, and requires teams to make adjustments throughout the tournament if they are to be successful.

For Dunja Froman & Lauren Norris, switching up the way they were playing after their first two round-robin matches was key in the pair winning the Women’s 6.0-6.5 division.

“We started with her on forehand and me on backhand, but it wasn’t working so we swapped after two matches,” said Froman. “Once we made that change, things went more smoothly.”

The communication between the two players was also imperative to their success, as Norris compared playing doubles to another type of partnership.

Women's 6.0-6.5 Champions: Dunja Froman & Lauren Norris


“It’s like a marriage, when one player is down, the other one needs to be up; you can’t both be down at the same time,” she said. “So we kept each other positive, and made sure to stay together.”

In the Men’s 7.0-7.5 division, Neil Shmuely & Matt Grossman used their chemistry from playing doubles together during the summer to come away victorious.

“We’ve played together at our club for the last two summers so we know each other’s games pretty well,” said Shmuely. “We played a good all-around game, and when the points got tight we were able to battle thorough. We went down 3-4 in the finals but were able to claw our way back, win three straight games and close it out.”

Men's 7.0-7.5 Champions: Matt Grossman & Neil Shmuely 


Hazel Zaldivar & Annette Delgado captured the title in the Women’s 7.0-7.5 division.

“Third time is the charm for me,” said Zaldivar, who had played in two previous LITM Challenges. “We know each other’s games very well, and even though I haven’t played a lot recently, she was able to carry me. It’s great to be able to win it.”

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After the duo saw their 5-2 lead in the final get trimmed to 5-4, they had to refocus and make sure they remained solid in order to close out the win.

“It was great competition, especially toward the end in the final,” said Delgado. “As they were coming back, we tried to play a little more conservative and make sure we weren’t careless in our shots.”

Women's 7.0-7.5 Champions: Annette Delgado & Hazel Zaldivar 


Stephen Weiss & A.J. Arena won yet another LITM Challenge title as the pairing held off a late comeback from their opponents in the final to win 6-4 in the Men’s 8.0-8.5 division.

“We actually haven’t played together since we won this tournament in September, and I think we tried to do what we did last time, which was having fun, taking it easy and trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves,” Arena said.

Weiss & Arena got out to an early lead in the championship match and had to hold off a late comeback from their opponents in order to win.

Men's 8.0-8.5 Champions: Stephen Weiss & A.J. Arena


“It was a tough match, and we needed a spark as they were coming back, and we were able to hit a big shot to win a key point,” Weiss added. “That helped us get the momentum back.”

The competition on the court contrasted with the fun and social atmosphere that took place off the courts during the LITM Challenge. Players were treated to complimentary lunch, as well as Apple Cider Sangria throughout the day which created a laid-back environment for everyone to enjoy themselves.

“This was such a fun event,” Norris added. “The women we played against were lovely, there was some great tennis and everyone was so sweet. This was very nice.”

As the LITM Challenge events continue to grow in popularity, Long Island Tennis Magazine’s goal is to continue to bring unique events such as this to the community.

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“There are many options for local players when it comes to racquet sports, and we are appreciative that so many players came out and chose our event. To get a sold-out draw into this tournament on a holiday weekend was a real success. I believe this is an indication that players see the professionalism and quality we bring to the events we host, and that they have a great time on and off the court,” said David Sickmen, co-tournament director of the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge. “I certainly want to thank our host facility, Sportime Syosset, for being such gracious hosts and Mike Kossoff for helping us put on this special event, as well as my co-director Michelle Stoerback, whose passion and energy for adult tennis is second to none. We look forward to more community involvement moving into the fall and winter, and are excited to see everyone at our next Challenge.”

Stay tuned for news on more LITM events as we head into the winter, and be sure to be on the lookout for announcements on the 2023 LITM Challenge Series.

Scenes from the November 26 Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge

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