The 2020 Fall Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge played host to a sold-out draw in a new format, as dozens of mixed doubles pairings in four different divisions came out to SPORTIME Quogue to compete in safe and socially-distant tennis.
Typically, the Challenges feature Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles draws, but the Fall event was a Mixed Doubles tournament for the first time.
Throughout the day, competitive tennis filled SPORTIME Quogue’s outdoor clay courts. A nice lunch and drinks were provided to players throughout the day. Towards the end of the day, there was a happy hour on the pool deck where spectators gathered to watch a live streaming of the U.S. Open Women’s Singles final.
The event began with round robin play for teams in each division determined by level.
In the 6.0-6.5 division, it was Emily Yang & Barry-Glenn Gloria and Nicholas Estivillo & Kim Shea who came through the draw to reach the finals. Gloria & Yang proved to be too much in the finals, and took home the title.
“I trusted Emily at the baseline,” Gloria said of the pair’s strategy throughout the day. “I know she can handle herself back there, so I just tried to focus on doing my part at the net.”
“This was great. The tournament was run perfectly, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. We had a lot of fun.”
Eddie Demirci & Juliette Lowery used their experience playing together to come out victorious in the 7.0-7.5 division, defeating Jeeun Lee & Jung Park in the championship match.
“We’ve played in a few leagues together, in a few different levels,” said Demirci. “We made Sectionals together in the 40&Over division once, but it’s been awhile since we played together.”
The two quickly found that chemistry once again to outlast Lee & Park in a tightly-contested final.
“My favorite thing about playing with him is I always know he’s backing me up,” said Lowery. “It’s very easy to play with him. Sometimes I feel like I’m in yoga or something, he’s always telling me to take a deep breath and relax after each point. Overall we stick to our game plan.”
The 8.0-8.5 division came down to a matchup between Djonvi Santos & Stephanie Rances and Lily Reidel & Rob Remolador in the championship, a match Rances & Santos won to claim the title.
“I definitely had a tough start in the morning,” said Rances. “I wasn’t feeling my strokes at all. He carried me early.”
Despite her early struggles, Rances picked up her play as the tournament went on according to Santos.
“Later in the tournament, I wasn’t feeling my strokes at all, so she carried me in the end,” he said. “It all worked out.”
“It was a great facility and the weather was beautiful. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
In the event’s top division, the 9.0-9.5, Jackie Clark & Casey Schnabel defeated former ATP Tour pro Gilad Bloom and his wife, Michal, in an exciting final.
“I had an amazing partner and couldn’t have done it without him,” said Clark. “He was on fire and really clutch today…Sometimes you can get down on yourself, but he was really there to lift my spirits up.”
Clark and Schnabel have won previous Challenge events in Women’s Doubles and Men’s Doubles, respectively, and can now call themselves Mixed Doubles champions.
“There was never a Mixed Doubles event like this, and we really enjoyed playing this format,” said Schnabel.
There will be a third Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge of 2020 set for later this winter. Make sure to check LITennisMag.com and social media pages for more information.
"After a successful event earlier this summer, we were excited to bring the LI Tennis Magazine Challenge back with Fall version of the Challenge. It was great to bring the tennis community together for a full day of competitive tennis on the court as well as lots of fun off the court. Throughout the tough times this year, we feel a responsibility to do our best to continue hosting events like this that players and local businesses have always been a part of and to unite the tennis community," said David Sickmen. "With the Mixed Doubles format, we wanted to try a new format, and we actually ended up having a waiting list for entry, so now we know there is a high demand for events like this as well. I want to thank SPORTIME Quogue and Co- tournament director Michelle Stoerback for their help and support in running the event. We plan on hosting another LI Tennis Magazine Challenge this winter in a safe and healthy manner.”