07/18/14 11:00am
07/18/2014 11:00 AM

Liz Dwyer sealed a place in the women’s singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament with a pair of two-set wins. Dwyer took down Mary Beth Corrazini, 6-3, 6-1, and Elizabeth Silano, 6-4, 6-2. She will face the winner of a semifinal between Rosemary Krocke and Molly Kowalski. Krocke was a finalist last year, losing to Kate Freudenberg.  (more…)

06/11/14 6:00am
06/11/2014 6:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is seeking his seventh straight title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

Chris Ujkic has won seven straight titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

Registrations are being accepted for the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. The tournament, sponsored by Times/Review Newspapers of Mattituck, will be held over a six-week period this summer from the last weekend in June through the last weekend in July.  (more…)

03/29/14 10:00am
03/29/2014 10:00 AM
Chris Ujkic won last year's Bob Wall Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

Chris Ujkic won last year’s Bob Wall Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

Registrations for the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament are being accepted. The tournament, sponsored by Times/Review Newsgroup, will be held over a six-week period this summer from the last weekend in June through the last weekend in July. (more…)

08/31/13 8:00am
08/31/2013 8:00 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg won the women's singles final in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament at Tasker Park in Peconic Saturday morning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg won the women’s singles final in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament at Tasker Park in Peconic earlier this month.

With the U.S. Open getting underway this week at Flushing Meadows on the opposite end of Long Island, perhaps this is an inopportune time to ask if tennis is, indeed, a dying sport. After all, the full attention of the wide world of sports will be on our national championships over the next fortnight, but still there are indicators that the sport is in eclipse, in these United States in general and on this North Fork in particular.

The indicators are numerous. Although American Serena Williams currently reigns supreme among women professionals, only one American man is in the world’s top 20 — John Isner, at No. 17. Long gone are the halcyon days of McEnroe, Agassi, Connors and Sampras. Europeans and South Americans have dominated the men’s game most recently and there appears to be no end in sight to this trend.

Locally, the tennis scene is in even more trouble. Earlier this month, three of the seven divisions of the 35-year-old Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament — women’s doubles, mixed doubles, men’s open doubles — were not contested due to a lack of entries. Again this year, tournament director Jim Christy pretty much had to beg players to enter the mid-summer event. And that was not the case a decade or more ago, when upwards of 75 local players would enter the Wall Tournament.

So, what happened? First and foremost, the population of the North Fork is aging, which means there are fewer young people around to pick up the game. Then there is the reality of there being no tennis-only club, indoor or outdoor, between Quogue and Connecticut. Both private country clubs here, North Fork and Laurel Links, have two Har-Tru courts, but the tennis scenes at both clubs are modest by all accounts.

Old-timers may recall a local effort some 25 years ago to establish an indoor-outdoor tennis club on the Horton’s Lane, Southold, property now occupied by Lucas Ford, but that bid fell through when the Southold Town Planning Board required extensive and expensive landscape screening around the perimeter of the entire four-acre property. So, in the intervening 2 1/2 decades, if you live on the North Fork and want to play tennis in the winter, get ready for the one-hour round-trip drive to Quogue or Westhampton. (Note: When I used to play at the indoor courts in Westhampton during the wintertime, it seemed like every third player on the adjoining courts had driven over from the North Fork.)

There are some exceptions to this trend, of course, most notably the “drop-in” tennis scene at the Tasker Park courts in Peconic, where players of intermediate ability and up, sometimes up to 20 of them, show up daily for some round-robin play.

And then, of course, there is the so-far-under-the-radar bid, about which I am bound to a certain level of secrecy, to establish a South Fork-style indoor-outdoor tennis facility here on the North Fork. All I can say about it is that some legitimate players — in terms of both their tennis and business credentials — are involved in this effort.

And all I can do is cross my fingers.

The return of the U.S. Open also marks the anniversary of one of my most mortifying moments as a columnist, wherein I opined, in this space in 2002, that Pete Sampras was over the hill and should consider retirement. Two weeks later, he won his fifth U.S. Open championship.

I was reminded of the ignominy this week via a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece on Roger Federer, in which East Hampton’s own Paul Annacone, who coached both Sampras and Federer, was quoted as saying: “Betting against aberrations like Sampras, Federer — why do that? You are just setting yourself up to have your own foot rammed in your mouth.”

Yes, indeed: columnist opened mouth, inserted foot.

08/11/13 11:50am
08/11/2013 11:50 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | John Czartosieski, who had not played in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament in about 15 years, won the men's 50-plus singles title.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | John Czartosieski, who had not played in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament in about 15 years, won the men’s 50-plus singles title.


This sort of behavior on a public street would draw strange, worried looks, but on a tennis court, no one thinks twice about it. Tennis players talk to themselves.

Both players had their moments, moments when they could be heard talking to themselves. In anger or disgust, they chastised themselves for things such as hitting the ball to the wrong spot, not positioning themselves correctly, burying a serve into the net. Thus, the self-directed chatter.

“There’s no one [else] to talk to,” Richard Chizever explained. “In doubles you can talk to your partner.”

In the end, it was the player who did a little less talking, John Czartosieski, who walked off the court on Sunday morning as the new men’s 50-plus singles champion of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

Czartosieski, the fourth seed, dethroned the defending champion and No. 2 seed, Chizever, 7-5, 7-5, in an entertaining, if flawed, contest that matched the beautiful weather it was played in at Robert W. Tasker Memorial Park in Peconic.

Czartosieski, 51, said this year marks the first time he has played in the tournament in about 15 years because of availability issues and three anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions in his right knee in the last 11 years. But Czartosieski’s right knee looked good, as did he. In fine physical condition, Czartosieski appears younger than his years. Following the 1-hour, 49-minute match and before the Riverhead man was presented with the championship plaque, he was jokingly asked for proof of his age.

Chizever, 57, of Aquebogue may have wondered himself how old his opponent is, but Chizever put away 23 winners and did well to make Czartosieski work hard for his points.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Richard Chizever's steady serving and 23 winners made John Czartosieski labor in the men's 50-plus singles final.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Richard Chizever’s steady serving and 23 winners made John Czartosieski labor in the men’s 50-plus singles final.

The match was a back-and-forth affair. With the exception of the final three games of the first set that Czartosieski won, neither player strung together more than two games in a row. The competitiveness of the match was reflected in the total points count, 86-80, in Czartosieski’s favor.

Neither player expressed pleasure with how he played, though.

“It’s a shame that we couldn’t have both played better,” Chizever said. “We made a lot of mistakes, both of us, but it was a lot of fun.”

Czartosieski wasn’t happy about committing 12 double faults (against 19 service aces). While Chizever was more steadier with his serve, double faulting only twice and putting in 74.4 percent of his first serves to Czartosieski’s 63.5 percent, Chizever said he didn’t move his feet enough. That might have contributed to his 16 unforced errors. Czartosieski was less accommodating in that area, surrendering only 5 unforced errors.

“I’m trying to get my game back to where I’m used to playing,” Czartosieski said. “I’m still not there. You saw all the double faults. You saw [me] missing easy groundstrokes.”

“I’m used to my serve carrying me,” he added. “I need to hit the practice courts. I need to take a bucket of balls out there, and I need to practice my serve because when my serve is on, people have a difficult time with it.”

Chizever was seeking his third men’s 50-plus singles title in the final, which had been postponed a week because of rain. He has a 0-3 career record against Czartosieski. That includes a three-set loss to him earlier this summer in the first round in the men’s singles competition of the tournament, which is sponsored by Times/Review Newsgroup. Czartosieski reached the semifinals of that bracket before falling to the eventual champion, Chris Ujkic.

While spectators seemed to enjoy watching Sunday’s match, the experience may not have been as gratifying to the players.

“I was very frustrated,” said Czartosieski, who coaches both the Westhampton Beach High School boys and girls tennis teams. “I felt like I couldn’t get any offense going, not the way I’m used to. I’m still a little tentative. I just kept saying, ‘Just keep playing defense. Defense, defense,’ and it worked out in the end.”

Chizever said: “I wasn’t happy with my footwork, and if you don’t have good footwork, you’re not going to hit the ball well, and my head was popping up all the time. No, I wasn’t happy at all. Whenever you lose, you’re not happy. Sometimes when you win, you’re not happy.”

Tennis can be trying at times, there’s no question about it. The trick is for a player to have the ability to pull himself up when he feels the tide turning against him. It’s not easy, though, and that’s when players sometimes start talking to themselves. “You try to talk yourself back into winning, and you think you can,” said Chizever.

Both players said that talk can sometimes be counterproductive, though.

In the meantime, Chizever is adopting more mellow measures to dealing with tennis-related frustrations. “I try not to throw the racket any more,” he said. “I drop it.”


08/03/13 11:36am
08/03/2013 11:36 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg won the women’s singles final in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament at Tasker Park in Peconic Saturday morning.

Rain interrupted play in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament Saturday morning at Tasker Park in Peconic. Only two of the four scheduled matches were completed before tournament director Jim Christy called a weather-related time out. The courts were too wet to allow for safe play, he determined.

Before the rains came, recent Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg defeated Rosemary Krocke of Cutchogue, 6-2, 6-3, in the women’s singles final. Freudenberg, who will enter her freshman year at Villanova (Pa.) University this fall, was simply too steady for her older opponent.

The men’s 50 and over doubles final was hotly contested and featured numerous intense exchanges at the net. In the end, Tom Cahill and Ed Lee prevailed over Rich Chizever and Bob Lum, 6-4, 6-4. In Chizever’s estimation, the match slipped away “because we made for unforced errors than they did.”

Chizever’s men’s 50 and over singles finals versus John Czartosieski was postponed due to the rain, as was the men’s open singles final between six-time defending champion Chris Ujkic and seven-time past champion and last’s year’s runner up, Steve Paskiewicz. Weather permitting, those matches were to be contested at the Tasker Park courts later in the day Saturday or, failing that, Sunday morning.

The Wall Tournament is sponsored by Times/Review News Group of Mattituck. Proceeds from the event help fund a $1,000 tennis scholarship, which this year went to women’s singles champion Freudenberg.


07/31/13 10:00am
07/31/2013 10:00 AM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is seeking his seventh straight title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

Steve Paskiewicz earned a place in the men’s singles final of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 semifinal defeat of No. 3 seed Richard Anderson. Paskiewicz will play the No. 1 seed Chris Ujkic in Saturday’s final at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic. Ujkic is seeking his seventh straight men’s singles championship and 19th title overall in the tournament.

The women’s singles final will pit Rosemary Krocke against Kate Freudenberg.

Richard Chizever will get a chance to defend his title in the men’s 50-plus singles division thanks to his 6-0, 6-0 semifinal win over No. 3 Tom Cahill. No. 4 John Czartosieski recovered to take down Andrezej Kopala in a three-setter, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

Saturday will be a busy day for Chizever. He will also play in the men’s 50-plus doubles final along with his partner, Bob Lum. The top-seeded pair will be matched against No. 2 Tom Cahill and Ed Lee. Chizever and Lum beat No. 4 Richard Brooks and Mark McDuffy, 6-0, 6-0, in the semifinals.

All of Saturday’s finals will be played at Robert W. Tasker Park, starting with the women’s singles final and the men’s 50-plus doubles match at 8 a.m. The men’s singles final is set for 10 a.m., with the men’s 50-plus singles contest to go at 11 a.m.


07/30/13 3:16pm
07/30/2013 3:16 PM

Richard Chizever’s late father, Larry, was well known in the Riverhead area for being a tennis player, a coach and a fun-loving person. But he was also a consummate competitor and a relentless trash talker.

“He did it in a nice way,” Richard said. “He would get under your skin, though.”

Richard recalled an incident about 33 years ago when he and his father drove to Mattituck High School to play a match against each other. As was his custom, Larry found a way to agitate his son during the match. “I was so ticked off at him, I wouldn’t drive home with him,” Richard said. “I walked all the way home to Riverhead.”

The occasional trash talking aside, Richard learned a lot from his father, who he lost about nine years ago. Larry suffered a massive stroke while in recovery from a bilateral hip replacement. He remained in a vegetative condition for six years before he died.

The passion Larry had for tennis, though, lives on in his son. Larry was a standout football and baseball player in Brooklyn. After moving to Riverhead, he was turned on to tennis and became hooked. He encouraged his son to play.

Richard, 57, continues playing the sport he was introduced to by his father. A former Riverhead High School player, Richard figures he has been playing tennis seriously for 44 years. Aside from the occasional aches and pains those on the older side of 50 typically experience, he said his conditioning has improved since he hurt his back in a tournament this past February. “Right now I’m playing some of the best tennis I’ve played in my life,” he said.

On Saturday, the second-seeded Chizever will defend his men’s 50-plus singles title in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament when he will play No. 4 seed John Czartosieski at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic. It was Czartosieski who ousted Chizever in the first round of men’s open singles, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Chizever and his men’s 50-plus doubles partner, Bob Lum, will also play in a final on Saturday. That top-seeded duo will be seeking its fifth men’s 50-plus doubles title when they go up against No. 2 Tom Cahill and Ed Lee.

“He’s my guru,” Chizever said of Lum, who is the Riverhead High School boys tennis coach. “He knows the game better than anybody I ever played with. He brings out the best in you.”

Interestingly, what Chizever learned most about tennis may have been less technical than mental. Larry was an unorthodox left-handed player, and Richard is a righty.

“He taught me more about the will to win than rather the actual strokes,” Richard said. “He was just a great competitor. He used to say it’s the fire in your belly. If you have the fire in your belly, you can win. He taught me how to enjoy the sport, how to go out there and win.”

Richard, who resides in Aquebogue and has worked as an optician in Southold for 27 years, learned a lot as a young player. He was among a group of high school players who played against older men in their 40s. “We really learned the finesse of a sport,” he said. “We used to tell coaches we played like old men.”

According to Richard, he hasn’t gone more than six months without playing since he first picked up a tennis racket. He said he regrets not having played tennis in college (Ohio University), but he values the friendships he made through tennis over the years. One of the things he likes best about tennis is the social component. He said it gives him the opportunity to play against people he otherwise would not have met.

And then, of course, there is the competition.

“It’s a sport that you use everything,” Chizever said. “You use every part of your body, including your mind.”

Jim Christy, the director of the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament, said Chizever symbolizes what the tournament is about.

“In Rich’s case, he just enters to have fun,” Christy said. “He moves along, but he has such a great disposition. He generally enjoys playing. It doesn’t matter whether the player is very strong or very weak. He never shows anybody up.”

Christy said he sees similarities between Richard and his father in terms of personality.

“His father was just an absolute gem of a man,” Christy said. “You could not not like Larry Chizever. He’d talk your ear off. He had such a great sense of humor.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Richard has heard people talk about his father and how he loved life many times before.

“People would come up to me and say you are lucky to have such a great father,” Richard said. “I would say to them, ‘You have no idea how lucky I was.’ ”