07/24/13 8:00pm
07/24/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men's open singles player in the United States Tennis Association's eastern section for nearly two years.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is two wins away from yet another singles title at the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

TENNIS: Chris Ujkic, the winner of six straight men’s singles titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tournament, is two wins away from making it seven straight championships.

The top-seeded Ujkic has a semifinal opponent awaiting him in John Czartosieski. Ujkic advanced by virtue of a 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal defeat of Greg Quist.

Czartosieski triumphed in three-setters in his last two matches, including a third-set tiebreaker over his quarterfinal opponent, fourth-seeded Eric Digons, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2). Prior to that, Czartosieski topped Richard Chizever, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The other semifinal will pit No. 2 seed Steve Paskiewicz against No. 3 Richard Anderson. They both scored two-set quarterfinal victories. Paskiewicz, an eight-time tournament champion and runner-up last year, blanked Southold High School standout Josh Robinson, 6-0, 6-0. Anderson was a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Jim Christy Jr.

Kate Freudenberg and Rosemary Krocke have a date to play in the women’s singles final. In the semifinals, Freudenberg beat Mary Beth Corazzini, 6-2, 6-0, and Krocke ousted Melissa Hickox, 6-2, 6-2.

Corazzini had reached the semifinals through an 8-10, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Dina Rose.

The defending men’s 50-plus singles champion, Richard Chizever, secured a semifinal place thanks to his 6-0, 6-0 defeat of John Rosselli. Chizever has a tough task ahead of him, though. His semifinal opponent will be the fourth-seeded Czartosieski, a 6-0, 6-1 quarterfinal winner over Myron Kaplan.

The two other quarterfinals were two-set affairs as well. The No. 1 seed, Andrzej Kopala, proved too much for David Newmark, winning by 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 Tom Cahill got the better of Mike Greene, 6-2, 6-2.

One half of the men’s 50-plus doubles final has been booked. The second-seeded Tom Cahill and Ed Lee have claimed that spot with their 6-4, 7-5 victory over the No. 3 pair of John Gregory and Richard Suter.

The finals of the tournament, which is sponsored by TimesReview Newsgroup, are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 3, at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic.

GIRLS LACROSSE: Carrera comes up big for LI Carolyn Carrera played for Team Long Island at the Brine Classic National Championships in Boyds, Md., earlier this month. Carrera, who will be entering her senior year at Riverhead High School, had 2 goals, 1 assist, 6 draw controls, 2 ground balls, 3 takeaways and won 8 of 10 draws in a 9-3 championship game win over New Jersey.

RUNNING: 5K run in Cutchogue The Fleet’s Neck Property Owners Association will sponsor a 5K run in Cutchogue on Saturday, Aug. 17. The run will begin at 9 a.m. A family 5K run/walk will kick off at 9:05 a.m. at Pequash Park, tucked away at the end of Pequash Avenue and West Road in Cutchogue. The course offers scenic views of Peconic Bay, creeks and wetlands. The event will help support the maintenance and restoration of the Fleet’s Neck Beach.

The registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 9. Pre-registration fees are $25 for runners ages 16 to 65 and $15 for runners under 16 or over 65. The day of race registration is $30.

For online registration, go to www.islandrunning.net. For more information, e-mail fleetsneck5k@gmail.com or phone (631) 734-8027.

05/08/13 8:00am
05/08/2013 8:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men's open singles player in the United States Tennis Association's eastern section for nearly two years.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic has been the No. 1-ranked men’s open singles player in the United States Tennis Association’s eastern section for nearly two years.

Say this about Chris Ujkic, he is a man of surprises.

Ujkic said he was only an average student when he attended Mattituck High School. He went on to graduate at the top of his class at Sacred Heart University (Conn.), summa cum laude. He has since scored in the 96 percentile on the law school admissions test and will attend New York Law this fall on a rare full scholarship. He currently works for the Manhattan law firm of Lackey, Hershman LLP.

As hard as it is to believe now, Ujkic, 24, said he was overweight when he was younger. A couple of months ago, he entered his first bodybuilding competition — and took first place!

As busy as Ujkic is, one might naturally assume that he sleeps like a log. Not true. “My sleep is horrendous,” he said, estimating that he gets only between four and a half to six hours of shut-eye a night.

And then there is something that is not nearly so surprising, but impressive nonetheless.

Ujkic was recognized last Wednesday as the No. 1 ranked men’s open singles player in the United States Tennis Association’s eastern section. He was presented with a trophy bearing his name and ranking at an awards ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Westbury. It is not the first time that Ujkic has been the section’s top-ranked player, but he said this is the longest he has held the ranking, nearly two years.

Fitness has been a part of Ujkic’s game ever since he reigned on Mattituck High School’s courts and then starred for Sacred Heart. He said he is fitter than ever and, as a result, unafraid to go for winners, knowing he can rely on his legs to outlast opponents should he fall behind.

“Fitness used to be my number one weapon, the speed around the court, my defense,” he said last week during a 71-minute phone interview. “Now I’m even fitter. I can fall back on fitness even more, can defend until those guys’ legs fall off.”

Ujkic’s life is a busy mix of tennis, law, nutrition and bodybuilding. All require hard work and commitment, and he is afraid of neither.

Last summer Ujkic’s tennis playing took a back seat to studying. He spent months with his head buried in law books, preparing for the biggest academic challenge of his life, the law school admissions test. He was undeterred by the difficulty. Ujkic describes his attitude as: “I can do whatever I want. There’s nothing that’s going to stop me.”

After passing the test, he applied to over 20 law schools before gaining the full scholarship from New York Law.

COURTESY PHOTO | Chris Ujkic posing with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in the background after grabbing first place in his first bodybuilding competition.

COURTESY PHOTO | Chris Ujkic posing with the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in the background after grabbing first place in his first bodybuilding competition.

Ujkic, who lives in Astoria Park, undoubtedly knows more than most people about nutrition. He has read over 40 books on the subject and, referring to his younger days when he was overweight, “I’ve tried every diet under the sun.”

Ujkic said he eats a lot, but he eats healthy. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t allow himself a treat like ice cream every now and then. He does make room in his diet for one weakness: popcorn.

“I’m a popcorn addict,” he said.

Popcorn, he said, gives him energy. “That’s what I keep on telling myself at least,” he said.

Coupled with the dieting are the punishing, “masochistic” workouts Ujkic puts himself through.

Recently, Ujkic has tried bodybuilding, and enjoyed virtually immediate results. He entered a competition in March and, after two and half hours, walked away with the first-place trophy. “I happened to look like the judges wanted that day,” he said.

Ujkic is looking forward to another bodybuilding competition next month. He said he will be in the best condition of his life for that one.

“I’m kind of pushing myself so much harder in the gym,” he said. “I’m a little bit bigger and little bit more cut than I was the previous show.”

With all his activity, Ujkic keeps others updated on his latest developments through social media. He said he has 21,000 people following him on Twitter.

Ujkic said he keeps in mind the sacrifices family and friends have made for him as he tries to get the most out of life. He does have one complaint, though, a result of all his workouts and tennis matches. “My laundry sucks,” he said.

When he played for Mattituck, Ujkic was known for his enthusiasm for tennis and always being on the lookout for an opponent to play against. He said that enthusiasm remains.

Ujkic came within two matches of qualifying for the U.S. Open last year. In a United States Tennis Association qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open, Ujkic won three matches before being narrowly defeated by professional journeyman Mehdy Karbid of Morocco, 6-4, 7-5.

Undeterred, Ujkic said he will enter the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open once again this year.

Many may know Ujkic as a standout tennis player, but there is much more to Ujkic than tennis. He is friendly, generous with his time and happy to dispense advice on nutrition and other matters.

“He’s one of a kind,” said Kieran Corcoran, a tennis player from Tenafly, N.J., and a lawyer who is Ujkic’s boss at Lackey, Hershman LLP and a friend. “He’s got a lot of bandwidth.”

Corcoran, who is 20 years Ujkic’s senior, has known him for about 11 years. He said Ujkic has self-confidence mixed with an eagerness to learn from others.

“He has a desire to be excellent, and that’s a genuine desire,” Corcoran said. “He has a fierce determination to do well.”

And, oh yeah, there is one more quality about Ujkic that stands out: He is relentless. “You can’t teach relentless,” said Corcoran.

Ujkic’s manner is conducive to making friends. “He’s a really nice guy and he’s very friendly without being obsequious or fake,” Corcoran said. “So people are attracted to him. People want to be around him and share in his sunshine.”

In the meantime, life is good for Ujkic. He said he will once again play in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament this summer. He has won six straight men’s open singles championships and 18 titles overall (including men’s doubles and mixed doubles) in the tournament, which is sponsored by TimesReview Newsgroup.

“I’m playing a lot of tennis,” he said, “I’m eating a lot of food, and I’m very excited about eating popcorn tonight.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/04/12 4:18pm
08/04/2012 4:18 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Men’s doubles champions Kieran Corcoran, left, and Chris Ujkic bump fists after winning a point in their match versus Steve Paskiewicz and Roger Ross.

BOB WALL MEMORIAL TENNIS TOURNAMENT

Given his druthers, Chris Ujkic probably would have preferred spending his Saturday preparing to play in the U.S. Open later this month rather than defending his three titles in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. And if that sounds far-fetched to you, please know this: Earlier this summer, the former Mattituck High School and Sacred Heart University star came within two matches of qualifying for the big show at Flushing Meadows.

But first, defend his Wall Tournament titles at Robert W. Tasker Park in Peconic he did, and most impressively. Relying on his astounding quickness and a 16-year-age advantage, Ujkic won his sixth consecutive men’s open singles championship, 6-1, 6-1, over 39-year-old, eight-time open singles champion Steve Paskiewicz, the former Riverhead High School standout.

By also teaming up to win the men’s open doubles and mixed doubles titles, Ujkic raised his Wall Tournament title count to 18 since he first triumphed as a 17-year-old Mattituck High School junior six years ago. In men’s open doubles, he and another former Mattituck High School tennis standout, Kieran Corcoran, won for the seventh year in a row, defeating Paskiewicz and Roger Ross, 6-3, 6-2. And in mixed doubles, Ujkic defended his title with a new partner, Denise Cardinale, 6-1, 6-0, over the brother-and-sister tandem of Rich Chizever and Iris Battino.

Chizever gained some significant consolation earlier in the day, however, toughing out a right hamstring injury to rally past the defending men’s 50-and-over singles champion, Andrezej Kopala, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

In the two other finals contested Saturday, East Hampton resident Dahlia Aman returned to the North Fork after an absence of many years to win her 14th — yes, count ’em, 14! — women’s singles title, and Tom Cahill and Leo Sternlicht avenged their loss in last year’s men’s 50-and-over doubles final, capturing their fifth such championship, 6-2, 6-4, over Jerry Duvall and Ed Yakaboski.

Aman’s victory was a little less straight forward. Her patented moon ball, error-free style of play was effective at first against Liz Rossi, the former Bishop McGann-Mercy High School star who is entering her junior year at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Aman won the first set, 6-3, but exceedingly long rallies — at least two of which exceeded 100 strokes — and the 90-degrees-plus temperatures began to catch up to the veteran player, who declines to give her chronological age but admits to being more than old enough to be the 19-year-old Rossi’s mother. In fact, Rossi rallied to knot the second set at five games apiece before she was forced to retire in order to fulfill a work-related assignment in Southampton. Aman, who actually exited the court and sat down in the shade during a second-set scoring dispute with umpire Jim Christy, wasn’t complaining that the match didn’t go to a third set.

Ujkic’s singles win over Paskiewicz was not as one-sided as the score might suggest. Their baseline rallies were fast and furious, and Paskiewicz most likely would have won easily against any other player entered in the tournament. But Ujkic isn’t “any other player,” as his recent performance in a United States Tennis Association qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open proved. In that event, contested in mid-June, Ujkic won three matches before being narrowly defeated by professional journeyman Mehdy Karbid of Morocco, 6-4, 7-5. Which means Christ Ujkic came within two matches of qualifying to play in the grand slam tournament. And that success has encouraged him to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis, while at the same time continuing to study for an October date with the LSAT law school entrance exam.

TOURNAMENT NOTES Due to a lack of entries, there was no women’s doubles competition again this year.

The 2012 Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament is sponsored by Times/Review News Group of Mattituck and directed, on a volunteer basis, by Mattituck High School’s longtime girls tennis coach, Jim Christy. Proceeds from this year’s event support a scholarship awarded to 2012 Mattituck High School graduate Erica Bundrick, who will attend St. Michael’s College in Vermont this fall.

07/18/12 8:00pm
07/18/2012 8:00 PM

TENNIS: Ujkic rolls in opener Chris Ujkic, the defending men’s singles champion in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament, opened the tournament with a routine 6-0, 6-0 defeat of Andrew Young recently. Earlier, Young had dispatched Josh Robinson, 6-0, 7-6. Two-set wins were also recorded by Richard Anderson (6-0, 6-2 over Keith Young) and Steve Paskiewicz (6-0, 6-2 over Ian Morris).

Dahlia Aman marked the return of women’s singles to the tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 result against Kate Freudenberg.

In men’s 50-plus singles play, Richard Chizever and Ed Yakabowski won their opening matches. Chizever beat Charles Spitiele, 6-1, 6-2. Yakabowski triumphed in three sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, over Jerry Duvall.

07/31/11 11:41am
07/31/2011 11:41 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic won his third straight men's singles title, as well as a pair of doubles crowns, in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament on Saturday.

It has become an annual rite of summer on the North Fork, along with fund-raising galas, ferry traffic and low-flying helicopters. When July turns into August, you can bank on Chris Ujkic dominating the annual Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament.

On Saturday at Tasker Park in Peconic, the former Mattituck High School and Sacred Heart University standout once again vanquished all comers. He defeated his former MHS teammate Matt Brisotti in men’s open singles, 6-3, 6-2, for the third year in a row; teamed with Kieran Corcoran to repeat as men’s open doubles champions, 6-4, 6-2, over Brisotti and Chris Garner; and joined a new mixed doubles partner, Liz Lurie, to defeat Bob Lum and Wen Hu, 6-0, 6-3.

Hu, a 24-year-old who hails from mainland China and works as an au pair in Westhampton, gained some consolation with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over the defending women’s single champion, Mattituck High School senior Erica Bundrick.

In the other finals contested Saturday, Andrezej Kopala of Southold outlasted last year’s men’s 50-and-older singles runner-up, Tom Cahill, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, in a grueling two-hour match; and Lum and his partner, Rich Chizever, successfully defended their men’s 50-and-older doubles crown, 6-4, 6-4, over Rick Suter and Joe Gregory.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Wen Hu of China won the women's singles final, beating Erica Bundrick in two sets.

If the Ujkic-Brisotti match gave spectators a sense of déjà vu all over again, it’s not just because they were facing one another in the finals for the third year in a row. By Brisotti’s conservative estimate, the former high school teammates and childhood neighbors have played “thousands” of sets against one another over the years. And this summer has been no different, as both have joined their former high school coach, Mike Huey, as assistants at the East Hampton Tennis Club. Which is to say, they know each other’s games like their own. That made for a spirited final of dueling left-handed, top-spin forehands, and enough side-to-side action to power a video game. As he has in capturing five consecutive men’s open singles titles, Ujkic’s quickness and heady shot-making repertoire proved decisive.

But don’t feel too sorry for Brisotti. He will return this fall for his senior year at Drew University in Madison, N.J., where he has been a two-time all-conference player on a men’s varsity tennis team that has won more than 90 consecutive matches.

And if Ujkic’s five straight men’s singles titles aren’t enough for you, how about six straight men’s doubles titles, which is how many he and Corcoran have won since 2006. And it seems likely that their partnership will endure, especially now that Ujkic has taken a post-graduate business development position with Corcoran’s New York City law firm.

Ujkic’s partnership with Lurie may be embryonic by comparison — they hooked up this summer at the tennis club in East Hampton, where Lurie is visiting from her home in Boulder, Colo. — but they were no less dominant in their straight-set victory over Hu and Lum. Ujkic and Lurie won the first set at love and prevailed in the second, 6-3, even though Lum made a game effort after turning his ankle and tumbling to the court midway through the second set.

With his mixed doubles victory, Ujkic raised to 15 the total number of titles he has won since he was a 17-year-old Mattituck High School student in 2006. And with no signs of slowing down at age 22, don’t bet against him winning 15 more.

TOURNAMENT NOTES Due to a lack of entries, there was no women’s doubles competition this year.

The 2011 Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament was sponsored by Times/Review News Group of Mattituck and directed, on a volunteer basis, by Mattituck High School’s longtime girls tennis coach, Jim Christy. Proceeds from this year’s event will help support the Robert Wall Jr. Fund, which was established after the son of the tournament’s founder was paralyzed in a 2005 boating/diving accident.