04/02/2014 4:00 PM

The Shoreham-Wading River tennis courts have been condemned. Replacing the courts will cost about $750,000. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

The Shoreham-Wading River School District closed its tennis courts late last month after the district’s insurance company deemed the facilities “hazardous” and “unsafe,” school officials have confirmed.

(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…)

11/19/13 5:00pm
11/19/2013 5:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River interim athletic director Bill Denniston introduces girls lacrosse players (from left) Courtney Rich, Victoria Logan and Shannon Rosati.

Year after year, the Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse programs funnel athletes into college. This year is no different.

Nine Shoreham lacrosse players — six boys, three girls — signed National Letters of Intent during the Early Signing Period to continue playing their sport in college next year. The nine students were honored at a signing ceremony at the high school library Nov. 13.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River tennis coach Debbie Lutjen introduces Aimee Manfredo, who signed with Bradley University.

It wasn’t just lacrosse, though. Senior Aimee Manfredo was honored for signing with Bradley University to play tennis. Manfredo finished fourth in the state singles tournament this fall, the highest finish for a Shoreham tennis player in more than a decade.

The three girls who signed for lacrosse were: Shannon Rosati (Ohio State), Courtney Rich (Kennesaw State) and Victoria Logan (Mercy). The six boys were: Tyler Anderson (Stony Brook), Hunter Hayes (Seton Hill), Anthony Visintin (Saint Leo), Thomas Tatarian (Saint Leo), Michael Loscalzo (Navy Academy) and Brett Friedman (Dowling).

Manfredo is coming off a season in which she won her third consecutive Division IV title and her first county singles title. She was undefeated this season until losing in the semifinals of the state tournament.

Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen noted how unlike in other sports, there are no divisions or classifications in tennis. So to finish fourth in the state is to truly be one of the top players.

Manfredo joined the varsity as a seventh-grader and played first singles her entire career, finishing with an 89-21 record.

“As a team captain Aimee is a leader and role model for the younger players on our team,” Lutjen said. “Having Aimee on the team is like having an assistant coach.”

At Bradley, Manfredo will compete in the Missouri Valley Conference, which Lutjen noted is the same conference she played in when she attended Southern Illinois University.

“I’m proud of her and I wish her the best of luck,” Lutjen said.

In lacrosse, Rosati has been a vital part of the Wildcats’ midfield over the past three years, where she’s used her speed to be a dynamic two-way player.

“Her competitiveness is unmatched, and her ability to perform at a high level while maintaining her shot and speed is not something you see in many players,” lacrosse coach Mary Bergmann said in a statement read by interim athletic director Bill Denniston.

Rich will enter this season playing attack for the Wildcats.

“She has worked hard to have a great shot and has a great ability to find corners and the back of the net,” Bergmann said.

Logan also plays attack. Bergmann said Logan has great field vision and is an unselfish player.

“Mercy College will be gaining a player who is always willing to improve her game, while being an unselfish teammate,” Bergmann said.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse players: Brett Friedman, Michael Loscalzo, Hunter Hayes, Anthony Visintin, Thomas Tatarian and Tyler Anderson.

Boys lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz, who will not be rehired for this upcoming season, spoke about each of the six players who signed.

“It’s a great time and it’s also a sad time,” Rotanz said. “I’ve been with them since they were little munchkins, and now they’ve become very impressive young men. I’m very proud of their accomplishments and where they’re headed.”

Friedman plays defense for Shoreham and “no one is tougher on the field,” Rotanz said. If Friedman was 6-foot-3, Rotanz said, he’d be in the NFL.

Hayes was one of the top scorers for Shoreham last year during the Wildcats’ Long Island championship season. He scored 63 goals and was an all-county selection.

Loscalzo is a face-off specialist for Shoreham. As a sophomore he stepped in during the state championship game for an injured player and excelled on the face-offs to help Shoreham win the state title.

Visintin played midfield and attack for Shoreham last year. Tatarian, a goalkeeper, will join Visintin at Saint Leo. Rotanz said Tatarian should anchor the defense this year.

When Tatarian was in ninth grade, Rotanz said, he made saves that wowed his coach.

“I said that was like Stevie Wonder making that save, because I just didn’t know how he saw it,” Rotanz said. “He looked at me and I said, you have no idea who Stevie Wonder is, do you? He said, ‘Is he like a superhero?’ ”

Anderson has been an all-county player for Shoreham on defense. Rotanz said Anderson has exceptional speed for his size.

“It’s not normal for someone that big and strong,” Rotanz said.

The Early Signing Period ended Wednesday. Athletes can sign Letters of Intent for most sports again beginning April 16.

joew@timesreview.com

10/07/13 7:00pm
10/07/2013 7:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Aimee Manfredo won 6-0, 6-0 Monday at first singles against Southampton’s Noa Dubin.

WILDCATS 4, MARINERS 3

Steady gusts of wind blew across the courts at Shoreham-Wading River Monday afternoon as a nearing storm drew closer. On any other day, the wind might have discouraged Aimee Manfredo, rattling her game ever so slightly.

But as Shoreham’s first singles player squared off against Southampton’s Noa Dubin — one of the top players in the division — she took the unfortunate weather all in stride.

“Usually the wind makes me really annoyed,” Manfredo said. “It’s just an annoying thing.”

But Manfredo had reason to be calm. After all, she had just verbally committed to play tennis next year at Bradley University in Illinois. At Bradley she’ll compete for a Division I program that plays in the competitive Missouri Valley Conference against schools like Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Northern Iowa. She can officially sign a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 13.

Even as the gusts whipped all around her, Manfredo cruised past Dubin, 6-0, 6-0 to lead the Wildcats to a 4-3 victory. Shoreham improved to 6-4 in League VIII and 7-7 overall.

For Manfredo, she kept her perfect record intact at 12-0 playing first singles.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Joelle Benigno won at second singles Monday, 6-0, 6-2.

“It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Manfredo said of finalizing her college plans.

As Manfredo weighed her college options, she settled on choosing between Bradley, Siena and Bryant. She had briefly thought about the Air Force Academy, but decided she wanted more of the college experience over the regimented military structure.

Bradley offered her a full scholarship and provided the most competitive tennis opportunity.

“I wanted to go to college to play tennis and know I’m going to get better,” she said. “I wasn’t going to be [No.1] one at Bradley so I wanted to push myself.”

A year-round tennis player, Manfredo practices at her club five days a week, even during the school season. Now that she has her college choice behind her, she can shift her focus to the upcoming division and county tournaments.

Manfredo won the Division IV tournament last year and finished second in the county to earn her first trip to states.

She said she doesn’t think much about defending her division title or winning a county title. She focuses on trying to get better.

“I want to be the best I can before I go to college,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

While few players in the league can give Manfredo a real run for her money, she did get taken to the limit earlier in the season in a non-league match against Eastport-South Manor. In a rematch of last year’s division final, Manfredo needed three grueling sets to defeat Eastport’s rising star, Jackie Bukzin. Manfredo needed a tie-breaker in the third set to prevail.

“That was an awesome match,” said Shoreham coach Debbie Lutjen, who added that it was in the top four matches she’s ever seen as a high school coach.

Manfredo offered a less glowing review.

“I pretty much beat myself out on the court, which made it twice as hard to play her,” she said. “I’m already going bonkers and then it’s tougher to play a match. But I was able to pull it out in the end.”

Manfredo and Bukzin, an eighth-grader, could very well meet again in the division finals and possibly the county tournament.

Manfredo will likely enter the Division IV Tournament Saturday as the No. 1 seed and Bukzin will likely be the No. 2. The tournament at William Floyd High School features rounds one and two on Saturday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are Monday and the championship and consolation finals are Tuesday.

The Wildcats also won second and third singles Monday against Southampton. The young duo of sisters Joelle and Daniella Benigno both picked up straight set wins. Joelle, a freshman, won 6-0, 6-2 at second singles. Daniella, an eighth-grader, won 6-0, 6-0 at third singles.

Manfredo said both girls have started playing at the same club where she practices.

“They’re coming along really good,” she said. “I love them both. They’re still pretty young, so I’m hoping they can take over when I’m gone.”

Shoreham also won at second doubles with the duo of Heather Sager and Amanda DeTiberis picking up a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

The Wildcats close out the regular season with matches against Southold/Greenport and Wednesday and Riverhead Thursday.

joew@timesreview.com

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.

08/04/13 11:37am
08/04/2013 11:37 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is once again the Bob Wall Tournament champion.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Chris Ujkic is once again the Bob Wall Tournament champion.

Chris Ujkic has successfully defended his Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament men’s open singles title, 6-3, 6-2, over Steve Paskiewicz in Peconic

Ujkic is a former Mattituck High School tennis star who now lives in NYC. He’s 24 and is ranked No. 1 in the east by the U.S. Tennis Association’s open division. He also recently won a national bodybuilding/fitness championship, which showed on the court today. He got to virtually everything Paskiewicz threw at him.

Paskiewicz is a former Riverhead High School star who now lives in East Moriches. He’s 40 and is also a past Bob Wall winner.

The women’s singles final and men’s 50+ doubles final were completed yesterday before the rains came.

The men’s 50+ singles final between Rich Chizever and John Czartosieski will be contested next Sunday at the Tasker Park courts in Peconic.

That match was postponed yesterday due to rain, and they could not play today because of previous commitments.

There were no men’s open doubles, women’s doubles or mixed doubles divisions this year.

The tournament is sponsored by Times/Review Newsgroup.

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.

tgustavson@timesreview.com

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.

bliepa@timesreview.com