On Saturday, while the professionals were in Queens playing in the 2022 U.S. Open, the outdoor clay courts of Sportime Quogue were filled with local athletes competing in the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge.
More than 90 players arrived in the Hamptons to take part in the Challenge with play taking place across six divisions of various levels. Throughout the afternoon, the fierce competition on the court was contrasted with a friendly and social atmosphere off the court, along with catered lunch, and an open bar available to players as the pool deck of Sportime Quogue doubled as the perfect viewing area for matches.
The six divisions featured round-robin pool play with the top teams advancing into the knockout rounds.
In the Women’s 6.0-6.5 division, Lauren Siegel & Tanya Mattera came away victorious, using a simple yet effective strategy to claim the title.
Women's 6.0-6.5 Champions
“We tried to keep it simple and just go for our shots when they were available,” said Materra.
A key factor in surviving the pool play and playing their best tennis in the playoff rounds was embracing the amenities that come with the Challenge events.
“We made sure to have a couple of drinks which kept us relaxed,” said Siegel. “I think we were a little tense in the beginning, but we made sure we stayed consistent and remained positive with each other. This isn’t our first time playing in the Challenge events, we love it.”
In a tournament such as this, often times you play opponents you are unfamiliar with, making for intriguing matchups. For the Women’s 7.0-7.5 winners, Lauren Calandra & Kathy Blenk, making sure to stay ready and adjust to those differing opponents was a major factor in them winning their title.
Women's 7.0-7.5 Champions
“The key was adjusting to all the different playing styles of the opponents, and we were able to do that well today,” said Calandra. “We had a lot of fun and stayed positive throughout.”
The pairing doesn’t normally play doubles together, but have played against each other a lot recently.
“We have played mixed doubles against each other all summer long, but this is the first time we paired up together,” Blenk added. “And for me, my favorite part was just being outside in the beautiful weather in this beautiful setting against some great competition.”
In the Women’s 8.0-8.5 division, the duo of Jen McCormack & Morgan Milleisen joined forces and used their experience of competing on the same USTA women’s team together to triumph over the other teams at their level.
Women's 8.0-8.5 Champions
“We haven’t played much since Sectionals about a month ago, and we thought this would be a fun tournament to play and it’s here on Long Island,” said Milleisen. “There were a lot of teams and great competition; it was such a fun tournament.”
“There were a couple of times we were down and instead of giving up, we made some changes and kept fighting,” McCormack added. “I think our mindset was the key to our success.”
On the men's side, Paul Schneider & Josh Rogowsky won the title in the Men’s 7.0-7.5 division.
“It’s fun to be out here and spend a day outside with a friend while beating some other friends in the finals,” said Rogowsky. “It was super enjoyable.”
Men's 7.0-7.5 Champions
The pairing were one of the last entries into the tournament, but used their prior playing experience together to remain consistent throughout the event.
“We decided to play last minute and it was definitely worth it,” Schneider added. “It’s always such a friendly atmosphere, but still competitive. Josh and I play a lot together, and he was amazing today, hitting his shots with a lot of pace.”
A doubles team that played together for the first time was Stephen Weiss & AJ Arena who quickly developed an on-court chemistry which resulted in them winning the Men’s 8.0-8.5 division.
“I think we got better as the day went on because he figured out what I did well, and I figured out what he did well, and we were able to communicate without talking,” said Weiss.
Men's 8.0-8.5 Champions
The duo played its best tennis on the biggest points throughout the day which was a key factor in them winning both playoff rounds.
“We managed to play the bigger point well. I think we had a good record on the deuce points, the ones that could have went either way, which helped us,” said Arena. “Overall it was a great day at a beautiful venue, and there is nothing better than playing on outdoor clay.”
In the Men’s 9.0-9.5 division, a doubles team who used to play together regularly rekindled their chemistry from their college playing days to come away victorious in the top level of the tournament. Former Fordham Rams Harris Durkovic & Cameron Posillico teamed up for the first time since they were college teammates to capture the title.
Men's 9.0-9.5 Champions
“We were doubles partners in college and haven’t really played a competitive match together since then,” said Durkovic. “So it was fun to get on court together and play again.”
“The highlight of the day for me was Harris hitting a screaming backhand winner down the line on deuce point during the finals.”
All in all, the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge was a great celebration of tennis and brought so many different players together for a fun afternoon in the Hamptons. The Challenge events continue to grow in popularity and participation as we combine competitive on-court tennis with a social mixer off the courts for the best of both worlds.
“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 close to 100 players into this tournament 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 beautiful host facility, Sportime Quogue, 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.”
The next Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge event will be held indoors as Sportime Kings Park will host the Fall Challenge on Saturday, November 26. Stay tuned for more information on that event.