| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff


To‌ ‌close‌ ‌out‌ ‌the‌ ‌2021‌ ‌summer,‌ ‌Sportime‌ ‌Quogue‌ ‌hosted‌ ‌the‌ ‌third‌ ‌Long‌ ‌Island‌ ‌Tennis‌ ‌Magazine‌ ‌ Challenge‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌year‌ ‌this‌ ‌past‌ ‌Saturday.‌ ‌The‌ ‌event‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌final‌ ‌installment‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌summer’s‌ ‌ Challenge‌ ‌Series,‌ ‌and‌ ‌brought‌ ‌together‌ 70-plus ‌players‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌Men’s‌ ‌Double‌s ‌and‌ ‌Women’s‌ ‌ Doubles‌ ‌tournament,‌ ‌culminating‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌viewing‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌2021‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌Open‌ ‌Women’s‌ ‌Singles‌ ‌ final‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌club’s‌ ‌pool‌ ‌deck.‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌matches‌ ‌were‌ ‌spread‌ ‌out‌ ‌across‌ ‌the‌ ‌22 outdoor courts‌ ‌‌at‌ ‌Sportime‌ ‌Quogue,‌ ‌beginning‌ ‌with‌ ‌ pool‌ ‌play‌ ‌between‌ ‌the‌ ‌teams‌ ‌which‌ ‌led‌ ‌into‌ ‌knockout‌ ‌rounds.‌ ‌In‌ ‌between‌ ‌matches,‌ ‌players‌ ‌and‌ ‌ spectators‌ ‌could‌ ‌watch‌ ‌others‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌deck‌ ‌and‌ ‌enjoy‌ ‌the‌ ‌catered‌ ‌lunch‌ ‌provided.‌ ‌Towards‌ ‌the‌ ‌ latter‌ ‌stages,‌ ‌a‌ ‌bar‌ ‌was‌ ‌set‌ ‌up‌ ‌for‌ ‌Happy‌ ‌Hour‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌Open‌ ‌final‌ ‌between‌ ‌Emma‌ ‌Raducanu‌ ‌and‌ ‌Leylah‌ ‌Fernandez‌ ‌was‌ ‌shown.‌ ‌

Click Here to see more photos from the LITM Challenge ‌

Off the court the atmosphere of the Challenge events are social and friendly, but the tennis on the court can get pretty competitive. This most recent tournament featured six divisions of play based on combined level.

In the Women’s 6.0-6.5 division, Anne McConville and Tanya Mattera entered the event with a simple strategy, but one that worked out.

“We had a very good, yet simple strategy,” McConville explained. “Try to put the ball onto the other side of the net, and get it past the opponent.”

Women's 6.0-6.5 Champions


Using that strategy and the chemistry they developed practicing together for the last couple of weeks, McConvile and Mattera came out victorious in their division.

“We played really well together,” said Mattera. “There were some great teams, but we were able to play well and stay positive throughout.”

Kim Onorato and Sarah Kull were the winners of the Women’s 7.0-7.5 division, and their success has them thinking of moving up a level at the next Challenge.

Women's 7.0-7.5 Champions


“No doubt we would play together again,” said Onorato. “And I think we’ll try to bump up to the 8.0-8.5 level for the next tournament. It was a great event and a beautiful day for tennis.”

The partnership between Maureen Ganiaris & Kalinka Maroones only began a couple of weeks ago, but the quick-developing chemistry catapulted them to the win in the Women’s 8.0-8.5 division.

“We just had fun, and played with no pressure,” said Maroones. “She was there for me and I was there for her. We’ll absolutely be back.”

Women's 8.0-8.5 Champions


“This is the first time we played together, and we just clicked,” added Ganiaris.

On the Men’s side of things, Matt Jacob and Stephen Weiss played their best tennis to come away with the title in the Men’s 7.0-7.5 division.

Men's 7.0-7.5 Champions


“Matt is a great partner and it was a great day out here,” said Weiss. “We played a few times before this, but it all came together today. The competition was tough, but at the end of the day we tried to do the same things that were working. Our consistency paid off. I was setting him up and he kept putting the ball away.”

Arrwin Yip & Junji Nakamura defended their title from earlier this summer in the Men’s 8.0-8.5 division by claiming the championship on Saturday.

The duo got off to a slow start in pool play, but found their rhythm as the tournament went on.

Men's 8.0-8.5 Champions


“We lost our first match, but once we got going things started to pick up for us,” said Nakamura. “We play with each other a lot and I think that was the key.

Yip added:

“It was a great time. The weather was perfect, and the amenities and set up was fantastic. This is our second time playing and our second time winning, so we’re going to keep coming back until we lose. The food, the people and the competition on beautiful courts: It’s always a great time here.”

Unlike the 8.0-8.5 winners, David Maher & Thiago Dualiby paired up for the first time and found their form as a duo to win the 9.0-9.5 division.

“We live in the same house, but this was our first time playing together,” said Mar. “It was a bit rough in the beginning, I shanked a few balls and got a bit frustrated, but towards the end it was easy sailing.”

Men's 9.0-9.5 Champions


The key for them was improving as the day went on, and figuring out what strategies worked for them against the competition.

“We had to make adjustments. Things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go in the beginning, but we kept trying to make them play a few more balls, and I think we improved with each match,” added Dulaiby. “In the finals, we did very well. It was our best match.”

The competition and camaraderie of the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge series make the event series special, and we are excited to see the events continue to grow year-to-year. The events were made possible thanks to the support of all the players, plus our sponsors: BTIG, Chris Savino, Compass, Cowen, inPhorm, KeyBanc Capital Markets, L’Antista, Plado Tasting Bar, Sportime/John McEnroe Tennis Academy, Town Bagel, Virtu Financial, Vite Vinosteria and USTA Eastern.

We look forward to putting more events together as we close out 2021, and look for an even more expansive LITM Challenge Series in 2022.

“With the help of our great sponsors, we were able to make each event this summer special in its own way. At the first event, we had professional chefs making hot food for lunch, at the second event we had a charitable component for kids with special needs, and the third event the bar opened while screening the U.S Open Women’s final,” said the tournament’s founder David Sickmen. “Every event feature catered food and happy hour, all of this combines to make what we do stand out and try to keep building the event series as something players look forward to annually.  We’ve always found it important for the community to work together and we thank the players that regularly join us, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the next event.”

Scenes from the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge