On a beautiful late summer day out in The Hamptons, more than 80 players came out to take part in the Hamptons Pickleball Open at Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn in Westhampton, competing for a $5,000 tournament purse and additional prizes.
The event featured three divisions of play spread out across the day, beginning with a doubles draw for club members of “The Barn”, followed by a 4.0+ Mixed Doubles division in the midday, and concluding with the Pro Doubles division in the afternoon.
The Members Only event kicked off the day and consisted of intense pickleball play on the courts but a fun atmosphere off of it with breakfast and refreshments available to players and music playing in the background.
When it was all said and done, the father-son duo of Gary & Spencer Heitzler captured the title, and each won a Halftime Chiller cooler for their win.
“We tried to keep the ball in play as much as we could, and get better with each match. I think we were able to do that,” said Gary Heitzler. “We wanted to come out here and have a good time against some good competition. It was a really fun event.”
Gary & Spencer Heitzler won the Pickleball Open Members Only event
Earlier this summer, the brother-sister combination of Courtney & Kevin Kowalsky won the Mixed Doubles title at Long Island Tennis Magazine’s first Hamptons Pickleball Open event in June, and the sibling pairing defended that title, using their chemistry and athleticism to play its best pickleball when it counted most.
“I think the key was both of us staying confident and sticking to our game plan,” said Courtney. “Being brother and sister definitely helps us on the court. We grew up playing a lot of tennis together so we sort of know that the other one is thinking on court during matches, and that has applied to pickleball as well.”
“We kept our heads in it and placed the ball well. That’s how we ended up taking the win against some really tough competition here today, and it’s awesome to be able to win the Halftime Chiller cooler which I plan to use for future tournaments.”
The duo has now won back-to-back Hamptons Pickleball Open Mixed Doubles titles and is looking forward to the next Long Island Tennis Magazine pickleball event.
“This is definitely the most fun I have at tournaments. It’s set up so well, there is always music, drinks, good food, and this facility is beautiful. Out here in the Hamptons, you can’t get a better location. It’s been awesome.”
The Mixed Doubles winners, Courtney and Kevin Kowalsky, with "The Barn" owner Barry Altman
As the Mixed Doubles division finished up, the tournament transitioned to the Pro Doubles division which featured some of the best pickleball players in the Northeast. The players in the earlier divisions stayed to watch the pro division and enjoy the event’s festivities which included catered lunch and an open bar.
The fierce competition throughout Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn’s six professional-grade pickleball courts was palpable as $5,000 in prize money, courtesy of the event’s main sponsor Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn, was up for grabs. After pool play and knockout rounds, it came down to the finalists with Eric Handelman & Erik Forsythe squaring off against Allen Fitzsimmons & Chris Ouellette.
The Handelman & Forsythe duo built an early lead to move within just a couple points of the title, but Fitzsimmons & Ouellette did not go quietly. They fought back to make the match much closer and put the pressure back on Handelman & Forsythe.
“Just gotta close it out,” Forsythe said of the pair’s strategy at that point.
And they did just that, regrouping to halt the comeback from Fitzsimmons & Ouellette to close out the championship.
“We took it one point at a time. They are a really good team, but we knew we were playing well, so we had to just focus in and let it come to us,” said Handelman. “It was a really high-level of competition all day long, and especially when there is a lot of money up for grabs, it ups the stakes and forces everyone to elevate their game.”
Forsythe echoed that sentiment:
“The competition was top notch; everyone wanted that money,” he said. “It was such an awesome event. It ran smoothly, and this place is amazing. We’re looking forward to the next one.”
As champions, Forsythe & Handelman earned the top prize of $3,000, while runners-up Fitzsimmons & Outlette won $1,500. In the third-place match, Thomas Finale & Frank Sciacca defeated Enrique Catter & Sam Kim to earn $500 in prize money.
“We were thrilled to host the Pickleball Open once again. The excitement for the event was real, and the entire day of events was a wonderful success,” said Barry Altman, Owner of Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn. “It was great to see two sets of family members win titles, and that is one of the things that makes the sport uniquely fun. We’re excited to host more of these in the future, and thanks to everyone who came out and supported the event.”
"We have been running events for multiple racquet sports for over a decade all around the Metropolitan area, and we just recently entered into the pickleball world, and were thrilled to team up with Barry Altman and Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn," said David Sickmen, Owner of Long Island Tennis Magazine. "When we run events, we like to make sure that in addition to the competitiveness on-court, players and fans can enjoy the fun atmosphere off court. Tournament Director David Radisch did a great job making the event run smoothly, and the catered breakfast, lunch and open bar kept everyone well-fed and well-"hydrated". The best part is the pickleball world is filled with great people who were a pleasure to get to know, and we would like to especially thank our sponsors Tennis & Pickleball at The Barn, adidas and Halftime Chiller. This was a real team effort all around!”
Allen Fitzsimmons & Chris Ouellette were the runners-up at the Hamptons Pickleball Open
Thomas Finale & Frank Sciacca were the third-place finishers in the Pro Doubles Division at the Hamptons Pickleball Open