BOB WALL MEMORIAL TENNIS TOURNAMENT
The match was the same. The opponent was the same. The result was the same.
But the smile on John Czartosieski’s face was proof that he felt a lot better about his performance on Monday morning than he did last year when he prevailed over Richard Chizever in the men’s 50-plus singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.
Czartosieski, 52, of Riverhead had a good deal to feel good about, and it wasn’t just because he had won his second straight title in the bracket, 6-2, 6-3, in 63 minutes at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. It was the way he did it.
In last year’s final, Czartosieski and Chizever were both talking to themselves in disgust and later expressed their displeasure with how they had played.
Last year marked Czartosieski’s return to the tournament for the first time in some 15 years. He had undergone three anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions in his right knee during an 11-year span in that time, so if he was a little rusty, it would have only been understandable.
On Monday there was no rust. Chizever, 58, of Aquebogue didn’t break Czartosieski’s serve once. Czartosieski served for 18 aces against 5 double faults.
“Only five?” he said in surprise after being told the number. “It felt like 25.”
Czartosieski’s serving (58.5 percent on the first serve and 75 on the second) was a key to victory.
“John’s serve was the big difference,” said Chizever, a three-time champion in the division who last took the title in 2012. “Anything I hit short he pounced on and got winners.”
Czartosieski said: “When you’re playing Rich, you have to serve well, first of all, and I was hoping that my serve was going to work for me and it looked like it did. I was able to place a few and get some aces.”
Yet, the even more impressive statistic was unforced errors: Czartosieski made only two of them. He was even more surprised to hear that stat and appreciative when a reporter brought it up.
“That’s very kind of you,” he said. “Thank you. Yeah, that’s good. I’m happy. I didn’t realize it was that low.”
Czartosieski, who has a 4-0 career record against Chizever, pressured Chizever and made him work hard.
“He was forcing me into taking risks, and every risk I took turned into a loser,” Chizever said. “He pushed me. I was forced to try to go for winners, and I just couldn’t do it.”
Not that Chizever didn’t hit some fine shots himself. Actually, it was a brilliant cross-court drop shot by Chizever that could be counted as the best shot of the match.
Czartosieski first took up tennis when he was 7 years old, and he later went on to play for Southold High School. He said he didn’t play for SUNY/Binghamton in college because he wasn’t good enough. After college, he said, he rediscovered the sport and put more time into his game. It has brought results.
Nowadays, Czartosieski also coaches the Westhampton Beach High School boys and girls tennis teams, but he remains a student of the game himself, picking up tidbits of information from television commentators. He said his love for tennis remains as strong as ever.
“I definitely lost a step or two, but I think I play a lot smarter,” he said. “You have a wisdom. You pretty much know what shot to hit and when to hit it. You know, that helps.”
Older players tend to outgrow what the tournament director, Jim Christy, calls “testosterone tennis” (translation: Smack the ball as hard as possible at all times). As Czartosieski has found, that is not always the way to play winning tennis.
“A lot of these younger players, they just hit hard without any purpose,” he said. “It’s not necessarily … how hard you hit it, it’s where you hit it and when to hit the right shot. That’s what’s helped with age.”
A FRIDAY FINALE It has been a dry summer, for the most part. Don’t tell that to the organizers of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. Five finals were scheduled to be played on Saturday, but rain washed away those plans. Two matches were played Sunday and one on Monday. That leaves two finals remaining.
The tournament will conclude Friday with the women’s singles final and the men’s 50-plus doubles final at Robert W. Tasker Memorial Park in Peconic. Liz Dwyer and Molly Kowalski will play for the women’s title at 5 p.m. The men’s 50-plus doubles match will be a rematch of last year’s final. The defending champions, Tom Cahill and Ed Lee, will once again take on Richard Chizever and Bob Lum. That match will start at 6 p.m.