The second installment of the 2021 Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge Series brought Mixed Doubles pairings to The Hamptons for an event at Sportime Quogue on Saturday.
The day featured competitive tennis with a fun and social atmosphere as players enjoyed themselves on the pool deck in between matches. Towards the end of the tournament, the bar opened up for a perfect way to wrap up the afternoon, and a catered lunch was provided for all players.
“We chose a Mixed doubles tournaments for our July event because it brings a different type of camaraderie and competitiveness to the courts,” said Co-Tournament Director David Sickmen. “There was fantastic weather on a beautiful Hamptons Saturday, and we were able to bring all of the aspects that have become staples of LITM Challenge events, such as catered food, open bar, competitive tennis and a professionally-organized tournament.”
There were four divisions of Mixed Doubles action that all began with round-robin play that led into the knockout rounds. Christine Ghan & David Blank, who were partnering for the first time, quickly developed the chemistry needed to win, and captured the title in the 6.0-6.5 division.
“We met for the first time right before we started playing, and she was fantastic,” said Blank. “We had a lot of fun playing together; we were able to ignore the sun and the heat, stay concentrated and keep our focus.”
“The competition was really great today, and teamwork was the key to our success,” Ghan added.
Another team competing together for the first time was Gregg Dukofsky & Kim Oranato, who walked away as champions of the 7.0-7.5 division.
“This was our first time playing together,” said Oranato. “We can’t believe it…this event was so well-done, it was a great time and having happy hour right after our win is amazing.”
Dukofsky explained the duo’s key to success:
“My partner always kept us positive and helped us remain calm,” he said. “We always believed in each other, picked up each other up, and kept the ball between the lines.”
One team that did not have to develop chemistry quickly was the mother-son pairing of Dan Tacco & Susan Smith, who won the title in the 8.0-8.5 division.
“We played once when I was younger, and it didn’t work out,” Tacco said jokingly. “But I think we had good communication, and just made sure to work together. Both of us have different strengths and it worked out.
The pair said they plan to play more events together now.
“It was a lot of fun, I hope to play more,” said Smith. “Everybody we met here was so nice and friendly, and it was just a great day of tennis and fun. I think we are definitely going to play more events and tournaments together, maybe we can find a mother-son tournament.”
In the 9.0-9.5 Division, Yassine Azagar captured another LI Tennis Magazine Challenge title, after winning one in 2020, as he and Daria Sekerina were crowned champions.
“It was all about her, I had an awesome partner,” Azagar said. “The most important thing was that we had fun. We really enjoyed it.”
“We’ve been playing together quite a bit leading up to this, so we knew what to expect from each other coming in,” she said. “We just wanted to have fun, and this was a very nice venue to play at.”
During the event, there was a clinic ran for those with special needs, as Long Island Tennis Magazine partnered with Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (F.R.E.E.), an organization that supports more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury.
“We are proud to incorporate a charity component to the event and have individuals from F.R.E.E take part in a clinic with our intern team, comprised of high school and college tennis players,” added Sickmen. “We’re happy to have these community events and bringing everyone together, and look forward to the next one in September.”
The LITM Challenge Series is made possible due 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.
The next installment of the Challenge Series is set for Saturday, September 11 at SPORTIME Quogue. This tournament will be a Men’s and Women’s Doubles event. Registration is now available, Click Here to learn more and sign your team up.