The fourth Long Island Tennis Magazine Challenge of 2021 took place this past Saturday as Sportime Kings Park played host to our Thanksgiving Mixed Doubles tournament. The event featured four divisions of play, with action scattered across the various hard and clay courts of the facility, as players came out to work off that Thanksgiving meal with high-quality tennis inside a festive atmosphere.
The event had a great turnout, with over 70 participants competing across four divisons. The tournament consisted of round-robin play which led into the knockout rounds.
“We don’t compete a lot of times together outside of the summer, so it was really great,” said Alli Schwartz, referring to her partner Neil Shmuely. “This was our first LITM Challenge event, and we definitely plan to do more next year.”
Schwartz & Shmuely are Mixed Doubles partners during their club season at Pine Hollow Country Club, and used that experience in their LITM Challenge debut as the duo captured the title in the 7.0-7.5 division.
The 7.0-7.5 Champions: Alli Schwartz & Neil Shmuely
“Alli is great at moving to the net, and she reads the ball very well, and I was consistent from the baseline,” added Shmuely. “We’ve been partners at our club for the last few summers, so we know each other’s games well.”
In the 6.0-6.5 division, it was the Father-Daughter combination of Scott & Olivia Eifert who took home the championship.
“I don’t get to play with my dad a lot, so being able to come out here and play this event with him was so much fun,” said Olivia.
The 6.0-6.5 Champions: Olivia & Scott Eifert
“Our communication was the key. We even had a code word for me in case I got too competitive on the court. But she really stepped up her game today, and I’m glad she agreed to play with me in this tournament.”
Throughout the day, players were able to enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages in between their matches, including Apple Cinnamon Sangria, which kept the atmosphere loose and fun while the competition heated up on court.
Dylan Granat & Katie Cirella used their loss at the Hamptons’ Summer LITM Challenge event earlier this year as motivation to come back stronger this time around, and the pair did just that in capturing the title in the 8.0-8.5 division.
The 8.0-8.5 Champions: Katie Cirella & Dylan Granat
“This was our revenge for not winning at the Challenge event in the summer,” said Cirella. “We were better prepared this time around. Dylan’s serve and volleying was great today, so it was important for me to set him up for those put-away shots.”
The two have been playing tennis together since they were in middle school, and their friendship grew stronger as they went on to compete for the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams at Syosset. That chemistry was a key factor in them coming away with the title.
“We didn’t really go in with a specific strategy, but we just used our experience playing together and the chemistry we have,” added Granat. “We communicated well and picked each other up during the big points.”
Ed Mulhern & Sarah Landsman were the victors in the 9.0-9.5 division, using their chemistry, as well as some timely serves, to claim the title.
“Being that we know each other so well off the tennis court makes working together on the court that much easier,” said Mulhern. “A couple of big serves makes things that much easier.”
The 9.0-9.5 Champions: Sarah Landsman & Ed Mulhern
The Thanksgiving Challenge was the final LITM Challenge Series tournament of 2021, but we are excited to host even more in 2022, and continue to provide fun and unique tennis events for the local community. Through these, we hope to continue to grow the game in our area, and produce quality events for tennis players.
“This was our first Thanksgiving LITM Challenge. We were basically sold out and it was a great way to wrap up the LITM 2021 event series. We’re happy to put on these community events and bring everyone together," said David Sickmen, Publisher of Long Island Tennis Magazine. "As we had into 2022, we look forward to having more Challenge tournaments, as well as many other types of events to continue to support the local tennis scene. A special thanks to our co-Tournament Director for the LITM Challenge Michelle Stoerback, and to Sportime Kings Park for hosting us, and of course to all the players for making the final Challenge of 2021 a success.”
Scenes from the Thanksgiving LITM Challenge