Great competition, ideal weather and a beautiful setting was all on display at the first Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge event of the summer as men’s doubles and women’s doubles teams gathered at Sportime Quogue to get the 2022 LITM Challenge Series started.
Pairings competed across seven different divisions with play taking place on the outdoor courts as each team competed through the round-robin stages in hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds. In addition to the tennis on the court, players at the LITM Challenge events are treated to catered lunch, waters and snacks, as well as a stocked open bar.
"Every year, the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge continues to get bigger and better. With 22 outdoor clay courts at Sportime Quogue, the club is able to accommodate the growth,” said co-tournament director Michelle Stoerback. “The atmosphere at this event was amazing. Perfect weather, amazing people, great tennis, tons of fun and the best margaritas ever!”
In the Women’s 6.0-6.5 combined division, Lynn Villano & Theresa Ameres overcame Amy Gillen & Joy Martinsen to capture the title. The chemistry and communication between the two players proved to be the difference.
Women's 6.0-6.5 Champions: Lynn Villano & Theresa Ameres
“Our communication was great, and most important we got over our nerves,” said Villano. “We started off a little rocky, but we settled in well and just played our game, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
“The tournament was excellent; it was a lot of fun. The whole day was great.”
Coming through in the Men’s 7.0-7.5 combined division was the duo of Steve Subject & Jeff Kee, who were able to defeat Jonathan Greenhut & David Blank in the championship.
Men's 7.0-7.5 Champions: Jeff Kee & Steve Subject
“This is my fourth or fifth time playing this tournament, I love it,” said Subject. “It’s always a lot of fun and run very, very well. On the court I thought our strength was our teamwork. Jeff and I have played together many times, so it was good that we weren’t strangers. We also covered the court very well, and had a high first-serve percentage.”
The Women’s 7.0-7.5 combined division featured a thrilling final that went into a deciding tiebreak. Jueen Lee & Heoeeun Kwon were able to outlast Agne Rakauskas & Theresa Bellini 7-6(7-5) to win the title.
“The final was so close, and it was a really tight match,” said Lee. “It was very competitive and I’m proud of the way we played, and that we were able to win.”
Women's 7.0-7.5 Champions: Jueen Lee & Heoeeun Kwon
A key to victory was an in-match adjustment that saw the two players switch positions on the court.
“We changed our strategy to have Jueen play from the baseline and I moved up to the net,” said Kwon. “I think that’s what makes us a good team, we can change up our plan and mix up our strategies.”
Adjusting to new styles of play was something that the pairing of Barbara Mueller & Susie Mackenzie had to do in order to claim victory in the Women’s 8.0-8.5 combined division, defeating Simone Cranes & Rhonda Levy in the championship.
“Sometimes at tournaments you see the same players, but here it was a nice change of pace, and it forced us to have to adjust to some other games and styles,” said Mackenzie. “It wasn’t always the prettiest but we got it done.”
Women's 8.0-8.5 Champions: Barbara Mueller & Susie Mackenzie
“I think keeping the ball deep was a big key for us. We came in when we needed to, and there was a lot of lobbing going on so we tried to take the ball out of the air.”
Raimundas Rakauskas & Marijus Kuzavas edged out Brett Verini & Zach Mollo 7-5 in the championship match to win the Men’s 8.0-8.5 combined division.
“We both were serving very well,” said Kuzavas. “This allowed us to keep most of our service games unbroken and I think that gave us a lot of confidence.”
Men's 8.0-8.5 Champions: Raimundas Rakauskas & Marijus Kuzavas
When asked what his favorite part of the event was overall, Kuzavas said:
“I would not single out one part, but I would say that everything was really good. The event was organized very well. The food and drinks provided were great. The atmosphere was amazing – everyone was in good moods. Lot’s of light-hearted conversations on and off court. Competition was great – every match was a nail-biter. And doing this interview at the end of event was also a lot of fun!”
For Tatiana Dualiby & Shay Siegel, the biggest factor was maintaining their composure throughout the event. In doing so, the pairing won the Women’s 9.0-9.5 combined division, downing Stacy Fleischman & Sondra Glueck in the finals.
Women's 9.0-9.5 Champions: Tatiana Dualiby & Shay Siegel
“My favorite part of the event was how friendly all the players were and competing at my home court,” said Dualiby. “And what helped me win was to keep calm and wait for the right shot to finish the points and my partner always keeping a positive energy.”
The championship match of the Men’s 10.0+ division was played on Sportime Quogue’s center court as Vishal Varghese & Christopher Tattanelli defeated Allen Thrones & Jeremy Chung to capture the title.
Men's 10+ Champions: Vishal Varghese & Christopher Tattanelli
“It was great to be on court and play with Vishal,” said Tattanelli. “The tournament was a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to playing in the next event.”
The first LITM Challenge of the summer continued the tradition of previous events, with friendly-yet-competitive tennis on the court, and just as much fun off the court. Catered food and lunch was provided for all players, as well as an open bar featuring beers and mixed drinks, which helps elevate the LITM Challenges to more than just tennis tournaments.
“This is our ninth year hosting the LITM Challenge Series, and we have always tried to create an event rather than just a tournament,” said tournament founder and co-tournament director David Sickmen. “We have moved the Challenge events around Long Island, but hosting the events in the Hamptons at Sportime Quogue this summer allows for many outdoor courts and a beautiful setting with a pool deck.
Additionally we catered lunch which included wraps, salads and pizza, along with having an open bar with margaritas and beer. We supply snacks and water, bring a photographer and writer for a media component, and have not raised the price despite all of these tournament expenses. With all types of levels of play available, and anywhere from 85-110 players per tournament, we love bringing the community together in a special way and we hope the players continue to appreciate our efforts and support our events the same way we try to support their passion for unique and professional events.”
The next Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge will be a Mixed Doubles event on Saturday, July 16 at Sportime Quogue.
Scenes from the Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge - Saturday, June 11