08/13/14 10:59am
08/13/2014 10:59 AM
Tournament director Jim Christy presenting a scholarship to Molly Kowalski before the women's singles final on Friday. Declining player participation has brought an end to the 36-year tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Tournament director Jim Christy presenting a scholarship to Molly Kowalski before the women’s singles final on Friday. Declining player participation has brought an end to the 36-year tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Like a once-bloated balloon, the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament deflated as player participation curiously dwindled and dwindled in recent years. Finally, that balloon popped.

The news that, after 36 years, the plug has been pulled on the tournament was greeted with sadness and puzzlement by players and others. Times/Review Newsgroup announced last week that it was withdrawing its sponsorship of the tournament in light of declining player participation. (more…)

08/08/14 9:41pm
08/08/2014 9:41 PM
At the age of 13, Liz Dwyer is the youngest player to ever win a women's singles title in the history of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

At the age of 13, Liz Dwyer is the youngest player to ever win a women’s singles title in the history of the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament. (Credit: Garret Meade)

BOB WALL MEMORIAL TENNIS TOURNAMENT

Liz Dwyer is all of 13 years of age, going on 14 (her birthday is Aug. 22). But she is not a typical 13-year-old. Most 13-year-olds don’t have her athleticism or tennis-playing ability.

In addition to being 13, Dwyer is also something else: the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament’s women’s singles champion. (more…)

08/04/14 2:03pm
08/04/2014 2:03 PM

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. (more…)

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.

BOB WALL MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT

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.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

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.’ ”

bliepa@timesreview.com